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Democrats accuse President Trump of witness intimidation

House Democrats are condemning President Donald Trump's attack on an intelligence community whistleblower, calling it "witness intimidation" in their ongoing impeachment probe.

Posted: Sep 27, 2019 3:40 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest on testimony by the acting director of national intelligence and a whistleblower complaint (all times local):

7 p.m.

House Democrats are condemning President Donald Trump's attack on an intelligence community whistleblower, calling it "witness intimidation" in their ongoing impeachment probe.

The chairmen of the foreign affairs, intelligence and oversight committees say, "The President's comments today constitute reprehensible witness intimidation and an attempt to obstruct Congress' impeachment inquiry."

Trump said at a Thursday breakfast that he wanted to identify the whistleblower and his or her sources, alleging they are "close to a spy" and alluding to the death penalty.

Reps. Eliot Engel, Adam Schiff and Elijah Cummings suggest Trump's efforts to interfere with the potential witness could be unlawful. They add, "Threats of violence from the leader of our country have a chilling effect on the entire whistleblower process, with grave consequences for our democracy and national security."

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6 p.m.

Dogged by the threat of impeachment, President Donald Trump turned a meeting with U.S. sheriffs into a mini-pep rally.

Sheriffs standing on staircases at the rear of the White House broke into cheers and applause when they saw Trump leave the Oval Office and walk up the driveway toward them. They shouted "We've got your back, Mr. President" and "Amen" and chanted "U-S-A, U-S-A."

The sheriffs met privately with Trump before presenting him with an award in front of the news media. They were in Washington to lobby Congress to act on border security and immigration policy.

Trump is facing possible impeachment by the House after a whistleblower alleged he used his office to "solicit interference from a foreign country" in next year's U.S. presidential election.

Trump has denied wrongdoing.

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1:40 p.m.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the State Department has not engaged in any improper activity regarding Ukraine and is focused squarely on trying to help Kyiv combat corruption.

Pompeo told reporters on Thursday in New York that to the best of his knowledge all actions taken by State Department officials were "entirely appropriate." He did not address claims from President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, that the State Department instructed him to reach out to Ukrainian officials.

Giuliani's efforts are part of an intelligence community whistleblower's complaint alleging that Trump abused the power of his office and harmed national security by pressing Ukraine's president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.

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1:22 p.m.

President Donald Trump is lashing out at House Democrats amid an impeachment investigation and a whistleblower complaint over his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden.

Speaking to reporters Thursday after returning to Washington from meetings at the U.N. General Assembly, Trump says of the probes, "There should be a way of stopping it, maybe legally through the courts."

Trump is calling Thursday's hearings on the whistleblower complaint, "a terrible thing for our country." And he claims House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "has been hijacked by the radical left" in her pursuit of impeachment.

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1:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump is trading insults with his chief critic from the House intelligence committee's hearing on a whistleblower complaint about his conduct.

Trump tweeted Thursday that committee Chairman Adam Schiff "has zero credibility" and is pushing "Another fantasy to hurt the Republican Party!"

Schiff, a Democrat, quickly responded: "I'm always flattered when I'm attacked by someone of the president's character."

Joseph Maguire, acting director of national intelligence, told the committee a whistleblower "did the right thing" by coming forward to report concerns over the White House's handling of a call between Trump and Ukraine's leader.

The complaint details a call between Trump and Ukraine's president in which Trump pressures the leader to investigate political rival Joe Biden.

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11:15 a.m.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says an intelligence community whistleblower's complaint shows President Donald Trump has undermined national security and tried to cover it up.

Pelosi told reporters Thursday at her weekly press conference that allegations Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate Trump's political rival Joe Biden show he "betrayed his oath of office, our national security and the integrity" of U.S. elections.

She added: "This is a cover up."

Pelosi spoke just after the release of a whistleblower complaint at the center of Congress' impeachment inquiry. The complaint alleges Trump abused the power of his office to "solicit interference from a foreign country" in next year's U.S. election. The complaint says the White House then tried to "lock down" the information to cover it up.

Trump has denied doing anything wrong.

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10:40 a.m.

While the nation's top intelligence official is testifying in Washington, President Donald Trump is attending a closed fundraising breakfast in New York.

The fundraiser is at a Manhattan restaurant and is expected to raise about $3 million for Trump and other Republican campaigns.

A woman on Thursday held a sign through the window of a nearby sandwich shop that said, "Whistleblowers set us free." Next door, a pizza place posted a homemade sign written on a pizza box that said "We love Mr Trump."

Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testified the whistleblower "did the right thing" by coming forward to report concerns over the White House's handling of a call between Trump and Ukraine's leader.

Trump began his day with tweets denouncing House Democrats' impeachment inquiry and urging Republicans to "fight hard," saying "our country is at stake."

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10 a.m.

The acting director of national intelligence says a whistleblower "did the right thing" by coming forward to report concerns over the White House's handling of a call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine's leader.

Joseph Maguire told the House intelligence committee at a hearing on Thursday the whistleblower followed the law "every step of the way." Maguire says the situation is unique and unprecedented.

Maguire is facing questions over his handling of the complaint. A declassified version of the complaint was released Thursday before the hearing.

The complaint details a call between Trump and Ukraine's president in which Trump pressures the leader to investigate political rival Joe Biden and efforts the whistleblower says by the White House to suppress the transcript.

Trump has denied doing anything wrong.

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9:55 a.m.

Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire says he upheld his "responsibility to follow the law every step of the way" as he reviewed an intelligence community whistleblower's complaint detailing President Donald Trump's interactions with the president of Ukraine.

House Democrats have criticized Maguire for withholding the complaint for weeks. The complaint was released to Congress on Wednesday and to the public on Thursday just before the hearing.

Maguire says he could not legally release the complaint because of executive privilege, which he says is a privilege he "did not have the authority to waive." Maguire says he believes the matter is "unprecedented."

The complaint shows Trump urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate political rival Joe Biden on a July phone call. Trump has denied doing anything wrong.

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9:30 a.m.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff says President Donald Trump's actions detailed in a newly released whistleblower complaint read like "a classic organized crime shakedown."

Schiff on Thursday opened a hearing with acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire. Maguire released the complaint to Congress and the public this week after weeks of delay.

The complaint details a call between Trump and Ukraine's president in which Trump pressures the leader to investigate political rival Joe Biden.

Democrats have criticized Maguire for withholding the complaint.

Schiff says the whistleblower shows "more of a dedication of country, more of an understanding of the president's oath of office, than the president himself."

Trump has denied doing anything wrong.

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9:10 a.m.

The White house claims the intelligence whistleblower's complaint about President Donald Trump's efforts to seek dirt from Ukraine on former Vice President Joe Biden "shows nothing improper."

Press secretary Stephanie Grisham argues the complaint "is nothing more than a collection of third-hand accounts of events and cobbled-together press clippings."

Grisham adds that Trump released a rough transcript of his call with Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Wednesday "because he has nothing to hide."

House Democrats who have read the document say it's "deeply disturbing."

Grisham says, "The White House will continue to push back on the hysteria and false narratives being peddled by Democrats and many in the main stream media."

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9:05 a.m.

The intelligence whistleblower's complaint at the center of House Democrats' impeachment probe into President Donald Trump raises concerns about Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani's role in seeking assistance from Ukraine to benefit the president's 2020 reelection campaign.

The redacted and anonymous complaint was released Thursday by the House intelligence committee.

The complaint suggests that Ukrainian leadership was "led to believe" that a phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was conditioned on whether Zelenskiy "showed willingness to 'play ball'" on issues raised by Giuliani.

Giuliani had publicly stated his intention to secure from Ukraine derogatory information about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

The complaint also details concerns from U.S. officials about "Giuliani's circumvention of national security decisionmaking processes."

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8:50 a.m.

In the days following the phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine's new president, senior White House officials intervened to "lock down" all records of the call. That's according to a declassified whistleblower complaint released Thursday by the House Intelligence Committee.

The complaint says that the whistleblower learned about the effort from "multiple U.S. officials."

Committee members are hearing testimony Thursday on the complaint and details of the July 25 call on which Trump prodded Ukraine's leader to work with Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and the U.S. attorney general to investigate Democratic political rival Joe Biden.

Trump has said he's done nothing wrong. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry.

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8:40 a.m.

The House Intelligence Committee has released a redacted version of a whistleblower complaint at the center of Democrats' impeachment probe of President Donald Trump.

Lawmakers began reviewing a classified version of the complaint Wednesday evening ahead of testimony Thursday morning by acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire. House Democrats who have read the document say it's "deeply disturbing."

The whistleblower's identity has not been made public.

The complaint is at least in part related to a July phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which Trump prodded Zelenskiy to investigate Democratic political rival Joe Biden.

The White House released a rough transcript of that call Wednesday morning.

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7:50 a.m.

Members of Congress have a redacted, declassified version of an intelligence whistleblower complaint that is at the center of House Democrats' impeachment probe into President Donald Trump.

A person familiar with the matter but not authorized to discuss it publicly says the redacted complaint is expected to be released Thursday morning. The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

Lawmakers began reviewing a classified version of the complaint Wednesday evening ahead of testimony Thursday morning by acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire.

The complaint is at least in part related to a July phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which Trump prodded Zelenskiy to investigate Democratic political rival Joe Biden. The White House released a rough transcript of that call Wednesday morning.

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12:35 a.m.

Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire is set to speak publicly for the first time about a secret whistleblower complaint involving President Donald Trump as House Democrats who have read the document say it is "deeply disturbing."

Maguire is not expected to reveal many details about the substance of the complaint when he testifies before the House intelligence committee Thursday morning, but House Democrats who are now mulling Trump's impeachment are hoping he will explain why he withheld it from Congress for weeks.

The complaint from an intelligence community whistleblower, the document at the center of a firestorm about Trump's handling of Ukraine, was made available to members of House and Senate intelligence committees Wednesday after Maguire had initially determined they couldn't see it.

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