The whistleblower controversy involving U.S. President Donald Trump continued to evolve Friday with the president calling for the resignation of a key lawmaker, who allegedly misrepresented him during a congressional hearing, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared that Attorney General William Barr has “gone rogue.”
The developments are in response to a complaint from a whistleblower who alleges that Trump, in a July 25 phone call, sought help from the new president of Ukraine in digging up incriminating information, about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, that would hurt Biden’s prospects of winning the Democratic presidential nomination and challenging Trump in 2020.
Trump called Friday for the resignation of Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, for allegedly misrepresenting him during a hearing Thursday on the administration's delay in submitting the whistleblower’s complaint to Congress.
“He was supposedly reading the exact transcribed version of the call, but he completely changed the words to make it…sound horrible, and me sound guilty,” Trump tweeted.
“Adam Schiff therefore lied to Congress and attempted to defraud the American Public,” Trump said. “I am calling for him to immediately resign from Congress based on this fraud!”
…sound horrible, and me sound guilty. HE WAS DESPERATE AND HE GOT CAUGHT. Adam Schiff therefore lied to Congress and attempted to defraud the American Public. He has been doing this for two years. I am calling for him to immediately resign from Congress based on this fraud!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 27, 2019
In opening remarks at Thursday's House hearing, Schiff said the complaint is “the most graphic evidence yet that the president of the United States has betrayed his oath of office.”
Schiff said that as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy tried to ingratiate himself to Trump during the call, Trump’s response read "like a classic organized crime shakedown” and proceeded to describe his interpretation of Trump’s remarks.
In an interview Friday with MSNBC, Pelosi said Barr, the nation’s top law enforcement official, “had gone rogue” in his handling of the complaint.
A public readout of the July conversation disclosed by the White House this week shows Trump urged President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to work with Barr and Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to investigate Biden and his son.
Pelosi accused Barr of being part of a White House “cover-up” of the phone call. “I think where they’re going is a cover-up of a cover-up.”
The whistleblower’s complaint also said the White House tried to “lock down” the information to prevent its public disclosure. Efforts to hide the information allegedly included the removal of the transcript of the call from the computer system that is typically used for such records of calls with foreign leaders and loading it into a separate electronic system that is used only for classified information that is of an "especially sensitive nature."
The complaint noted that a White House official described that as an abuse of the secure system because there was nothing "remotely sensitive" on the phone call from a national security perspective.
The whistleblower noted that White House officials said this was "not the first time" the Trump administration placed a presidential transcript into this “codeword-level system solely for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive, rather than national security sensitive information."
On Thursday, before leaving New York where he attended the U.N. General Assembly, Trump told a crowd of staff from the United States Mission to the U.N. that he wants to know who provided information to the whistleblower. He said that whomever did so was “close to a spy” and that “in the old days,” spies were dealt with differently," according to The New York Times newspaper.