WASHINGTON (AP) – Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire is set to speak publicly for the first time about a secret whistleblower complaint involving United States (US) President Donald Trump as House Democrats who have read the document say it is “deeply disturbing.”
House Democrats who are now mulling Trump’s impeachment are hoping that Maguire will explain why he withheld the intelligence community whistleblower’s complaint from Congress for weeks. Maguire will then go behind closed doors to speak to the Senate intelligence panel.
There were signs that the document, now at the centre of a firestorm about Trump’s handling of Ukraine, could be made public.
Shortly before midnight on Wednesday, Utah Rep Chris Stewart, a GOP member of the House intelligence committee, tweeted: “BREAKING NEWS: The whistleblower complaint has been declassified. I encourage you all to read it.”
He did not say when it might be released, and a spokesman for the panel did not return a request for comment.
New York Rep Hakeem Jeffries, a member of Democratic leadership, said on Wednesday evening that he expects the complaint would be made public “sooner rather than later.”
The document was made available to members of House and Senate intelligence committees on Wednesday after Maguire had initially determined they couldn’t see it. 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 on Wednesday morning.
House Democrats emerging from a secure room would not divulge details of the classified document, but described it as disturbing and urgent.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif, said it “exposed serious wrongdoing” and “certainly provides information for the committee to follow up with others.”
California Rep Eric Swalwell told CNN that the whistleblower “laid out a lot of other documents and witnesses who were subjects in this matter.”
The complaint showed the whistleblower learned details of the call from White House officials, according to one person familiar with the complaint who was granted anonymity to discuss it.
Another such person said the lawmakers did not learn the identity of the whistleblower.
A Democratic member of the panel, Illinois Rep Raja Krishnamoorthi, said the whistleblower “lays out the situation very logically” and “is both acknowledging the things that he or she knows and doesn’t know, which is a hallmark of a credible document.”