President Trump Thursday morning called a whistleblower and the White House officials that gave them information about a phone call with Ukraine’s president “almost a spy,” and suggested their actions were treasonous.
“Who’s the person that gave the whistleblower the information? Because that’s close to spy,” Trump said in audio obtained by the Los Angeles Times from a private event with diplomatic officials in New York. “You know what we used to do in the old days, when we were smart, right? The spies and treason? We used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”
The comments led several Democratic house committee members to accuse Trump of “witness intimidation.”
“That kind of incitement to violence is only going to chill other witnesses when they come forward,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said, according to The Times. “And that is its very intent, to intimidate the witnesses."
The whistleblower, in a complaint declassified Thursday, said they were not a “direct witness” to most of the events in the complaint, but wrote that they had received information from more than half a dozen White Hosue and other U.S. government officials who alleged Trump “is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.”
The complaint was turned over to the Inspector General who found it credible and of urgent concern but it was not initially shared with Congress.
The allegations center on a July phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump urged him to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Tuesday that Congress is launching an impeachment inquiry stemming from the whistleblower complaint.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.