President Donald Trump wrongly claimed that a whistleblower complaint, authored by a CIA officer regarding interactions between the commander-in-chief and the president of Ukraine, was written with the help of Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Commitee.
Trump based that assumption off of a New York Times article published on Wednesday, which described how the whistleblower had approached a congressional aide about the issue. That aide, in turn, gave the whistleblower advice on how to speak with the inspector general of the intelligence community about the information they had. The aide then proceeded to inform Schiff about the situation.
In all exchanges between the whistleblower, the aide, and Schiff, the Times described information shared between the parties involved as being “vague.” That didn’t stop Trump, however, from insinuating that the Intelligence chair had involved himself in a more direct way.
“I think he probably helped write it. That’s what the word is,” Trump said on Wednesday afternoon during a news conference, per prior reporting from HillReporter.com.
“He knew long before and he helped write it,” Trump added, without providing any proof to his allegation.
The president’s words prompted attorneys representing the whistleblower to speak out on the matter, ABC News reported on Wednesday evening.
“The Whistleblower drafted the Complaint entirely on their own,” attorney Mark Zaid said in a statement. “Legal counsel Andrew Bakaj provided guidance on process but was not involved in the drafting of the document and did not review it in advance.”
Lawyer: Whistleblower wrote complaint 'on their own' https://t.co/9b1inscJGI
— Muckmaker™ (@RealMuckmaker) October 3, 2019
Zaid tried to be as clear as possible about the independent nature of the authoring of the complaint itself, which alleged Trump had pressured Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden, a potential political rival to the current U.S. chief executive.
“In fact, none of the legal team saw the Complaint until it was publicly released by Congress,” Zaid said, adding that “no Member or congressional staff had any input into or reviewed the Complaint before it was submitted to the Intelligence Community Inspector General.”
The House Intelligence Committee also issued a statement on the issue, the Washington Post reported, saying that the whistleblower’s contact with anyone in Congress was strictly “guidance” related.
“Like other whistleblowers have done before and since under Republican — and Democratic — controlled committees, the whistleblower contacted the committee for guidance on how to report possible wrongdoing within the jurisdiction of the intelligence community,” the committee’s statement read.