Pelosi suggests whistleblower complaint prompted release of Ukraine aid

Pelosi suggests whistleblower prompted release of Ukraine aid

Washington — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested that the disclosure to Congress of the existence of the whistleblower complaint about President Trump's dealings with Ukraine prompted the White House to release hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to the country after a months-long delay.

Asked by "Face the Nation" moderator Margaret Brennan if she saw a connection between the whistleblower and the release of the aid, Pelosi said "of course" she does.

The House Intelligence Committee, led by Democratic Chairman Adam Schiff, received its first formal notification of the complaint's existence September 9, two days before the White House lifted its hold on a military assistance package meant to help Ukraine counter a Russian-backed insurgency in its eastern territories.

The delay in aid is central to the impeachment inquiry, with several witnesses testifying they believed the delay was being used to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations that would benefit Mr. Trump politically.

Pelosi said the fact that the aid was released after Congress became aware of the whistleblower complaint undercuts Republicans' defense of the president's dealings with Ukraine.

"The Republicans like to say, if you want to talk about them, 'Oh, it doesn't matter the aid was released.' No, the whistle was blown. The whistle was blown. And that was blown long before we heard about it," she said.

"Don't forget that in between all of that came the inspector general, an inspector general appointed by President Trump," she added. "And the inspector general said that this was of 'urgent concern.' And so that is what intervened."

On August 12, an anonymous member of the intelligence community filed a whistleblower complaint with the intelligence community inspector general, who determined it constituted an "urgent concern" requiring congressional notification under federal law. However, after consulting with the Justice Department and White House, the acting director of national intelligence came to a different conclusion and declined to provide the complaint to congressional committees.

The inspector general wrote to the House Intelligence Committee on September 9, formally disclosing the complaint to Congress for the first time. Its existence became public on September 13, when Schiff issued a subpoena demanding it be turned over.

The complaint itself was ultimately disclosed to the public and Congress in late September after the White House released a memorandum of Mr. Trump's July call with Ukraine's leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, in which the president asked his Ukrainian counterpart to launch politically motivated investigations, including one into the Biden family.

Since Pelosi announced the formal impeachment inquiry, multiple current and former administration officials have testified before Congress and detailed an unorthodox campaign by Mr. Trump's allies within and outside the administration, including his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, to solicit the help of a newly elected government in Ukraine to dig up political dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

  • Camilo Montoya-Galvez
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    Camilo Montoya-Galvez is the immigration reporter at CBS News. Based in Washington, he covers immigration policy and politics. Twitter: @camiloreports