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Senate Republicans to look into whistleblower complaint about Trump pressuring Ukraine

Jennifer Haberkorn, Sarah D. Wire and Molly O'Toole, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday the Senate Intelligence Committee will look into a whistleblower's complaint that reportedly alleges President Donald Trump pressured the Ukrainian leader to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a possible Trump opponent in the 2020 presidential race.

But only a handful of Republicans demanded that the Trump administration turn over the whistleblower's complaint to the panel.

Reports that Trump spoke to a foreign leader about his political rival -- and has refused to hand over a whistleblower's complaint about it -- have energized Democrats' impeachment investigation and put congressional Republicans in the politically perilous position of choosing whether to defend the president.

McConnell said Monday that the Senate would move forward on a bipartisan basis, complaining that the Democratic-led House had "politicized" the issue.

Later this week, the Senate Intelligence Committee will attempt to privately interview the inspector general of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which received the complaint. The IG had determined that that the complaint was serious and urgent enough that -- by law -- it should be shared with congressional intelligence committees. Of particular interest is a transcript of a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said the acting director of the national intelligence office has refused to turn over the information.

 

Only a handful of Republicans criticized that decision and publicly called for the Trump administration to hand over the contents of the whistleblower complaint, or expressed concern about the seriousness of the allegations. Many others GOP lawmakers refused to weigh in, saying they didn't know the full story.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, called it "a very serious matter" and said determining what Trump and his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said to Ukrainian officials "is critical."

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she wanted to see the whistleblower's complaint. "The law is clear that if the inspector general of the intelligence community received a whistleblower complaint that the IG deems is urgent, that that is to be reported to the leaders of the intelligence committee," Collins said.

A small number of Senate Republicans expressed concern about the content of the allegations. Asked if the president should be talking about their political opponents with foreign leaders, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said, "Probably not."

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