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Impeachment inquiry: House Intelligence panel meeting with Intelligence Community inspector general

As House Democrats pursue an impeachment inquiry into...

Posted: Oct 4, 2019 3:32 AM
Updated: Oct 4, 2019 11:15 AM

As House Democrats pursue an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, the House Intelligence Committee is holding a briefing Friday with Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson.

Atkinson is widely regarded as a career non-partisan with little interest in the public limelight, but currently finds himself at the center of the high profile controversy over a whistleblower complaint alleging that the President pressured the Ukrainian president in an effort to 'solicit interference' in the 2020 presidential election. The complaint has divided Washington and become the focal point of the impeachment inquiry into the President by House Democrats.

Ahead of Friday's meeting, one Democratic member told CNN the key question for Democrats will be what happened between the whistleblower raising his or her concerns, and saying they had something urgent, and how this complaint was dealt with. Lawmakers will also want to know who the inspector general interviewed to corroborate the tip from the whistleblower, the member said.

Meanwhile, a Republican aide tells CNN members will ask more about how the complaint was drafted and if others were involved. They also want to know how the inspector general deemed it credible and what the perceived potential political bias was -- an indication that they plan to go after the credibility of the complaint itself.

This won't be Atkinson's first visit to the Hill as the controversy over the President and his actions with respect to Ukraine has unfolded. Last week, Atkinson appeared behind closed doors with the Senate Intelligence Committee. He also appeared before the House Intelligence Committee two weeks ago, but that was before the whistleblower complaint had been released, which is why the committee is calling him back Friday.

Friday's briefing with the inspector general is the latest indication House Democrats are attempting to move swiftly in their investigation, which has continued despite the fact that the House is currently in a two-week recess period.

Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, announced that Atkinson would appear before the panel in a 'Dear Colleague' letter last week updating lawmakers on the next steps in the ongoing investigation.

'The House Intelligence Committee will hold a closed briefing with the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community on Friday, October 4,' Schiff wrote, adding, 'The IC IG conducted a preliminary investigation and determined that the whistleblower complaint was credible. This hearing is critical to establish additional details, leads and evidence.'

Congressional Democrats have argued that the Ukraine matter is a betrayal of the President's oath of office, but many congressional Republicans have instead turned to attacking the credibility of the whistleblower, arguing that the account amounts to 'hearsay,' though a transcript provided by the White House backs up some of the allegations outlined in the whistleblower's complaint.

The office of the Intelligence Community inspector general forcefully also pushed back on Republicans' argument in a rare statement on Monday, saying, 'The whistleblower stated on the form that he or she possessed both first-hand and other information.'

'The ICIG reviewed the information provided as well as other information gathered and determined that the complaint was both urgent and that it appeared credible,' the statement read.

This story has been updated with additional developments Friday.

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