President Trump was briefed of the whistleblower complaint that forms the basis of the House impeachment proceedings before he released aid to Ukraine.
A CIA whistleblower filed a complaint alleging that Trump attempted to push Ukraine into investigating former Vice President Joe Biden to secure a political advantage over the Democrat ahead of the 2020 presidential election. The whistleblower alleged that Trump made a deal with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch the investigation in return for United States military aid in a July 25 phone call.
House Democrats have used the whistleblower complaint as the basis to launch an impeachment investigation. Several of Trump’s GOP defenders in the House have pointed out that Trump released aid to Ukraine without any reciprocal investigations as evidence that no deal was struck.
A Tuesday report from the New York Times calls into question whether Trump released the aid to Ukraine because he was worried about the complaint or because his administration was reasonably assured by that point that Ukraine’s government would not waste the U.S. aid.
The Office of Legal Counsel briefed the president on the complaint as White House lawyers attempted to determine if they were required by law to hand the complaint over to Congress. The OLC eventually decided that it was not obligated to give the complaint to Congress. It is unclear how much Trump knew about the complaint and if he was briefed on the specific allegations it contained.
Reports suggest that the anonymous whistleblower is 33-year-old CIA analyst Eric Ciaramella but have not yet been confirmed. Ciaramella was Ukraine director on the National Security Council during the end of the Obama administration and remained there during the early months of the Trump administration when he was briefly acting senior director for European and Russian affairs.
The Washington Examiner reported that Ciaramella is now a deputy national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia on the National Intelligence Council, reporting to the director of national intelligence.
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