‘Potential criminality’: Top Republicans push watchdog on timing of changes to whistleblower complaint form


Three top House Republicans wrote to the inspector general for the intelligence community Monday to find out if whistleblower reporting requirements were improperly loosened in order to accommodate an allegation against President Trump.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, Rep. Devin Nunes of California, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top GOP lawmaker on the House Oversight Committee, wrote to Inspector General Michael K. Atkinson to demand information related to the decision to loosen whistleblower reporting requirements so that non-firsthand accounts would be accepted.

The change to the reporting requirement was made in August, the same month a whistleblower reported Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The whistleblower did not hear or see the call first hand and his complaint was leaked to the news media. Democrats who first heard about the call through leaks to the media announced they have launched a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump’s behavior.

The whistleblower accused Trump of asking Zelensky to investigate his chief political rival, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Trump has released an inexact transcript of the call as well as the whistleblower complaint.

But Republicans are questioning whether the rules were changed to accommodate the whistleblower.

“The timing,” McCarthy, Nunes, and Jordan wrote to Atkinson, “raises questions about potential connections to the whistleblower’s complaint.”

The three lawmakers added, “This timing, along with numerous apparent leaks of classified information about the contents of this complaint, also raise questions about potential criminality in the handling of these matters.”

The three lawmakers told the watchdog to preserve all documents and communications related to the matter, including who revised the whistleblower reporting rules and when.

The lawmakers also want the inspector general to provide information about when he was in contact with the whistleblower and whether any of the changes were made on the person’s behalf.

They also asked “how many other disclosures … were solely based on second-hand knowledge,” and if they were deemed credible.

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