Whistleblower May Have ‘Arguable Political Bias’: Memo

whistleblower political bias

Getty The whistleblower may have shown indications of political bias.

There are indications that the whistleblower who has made accusations against President Donald Trump may have an “arguable political bias” in favor of a “rival political candidate,” a government memo alleges. It doesn’t name the rival political candidate, nor specify the indications.

Read the whistleblower’s complaint here.

The details of the whistleblower’s background are contained in a Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel opinion released September 25, 2019, and which you can read here. For the first time, it gives some background details about the anonymous and still-mysterious whistleblower, who is a member of the intelligence community. Bill Barr, a Trump nominee, helms the Justice Department.

The whistleblower brought forth concerns about a call between Trump and the President of Ukraine that the whistleblower did not hear firsthand. However, the whistleblower’s complaint indicated that “he or she had heard reports from ‘White House officials’ that, in the course of a routine diplomatic communication between the President and a foreign leader, the President had made statements that the complainant viewed as seeking to pressure that leader to take an official action to help the President’s 2020 re-election campaign.”

If the whistleblower’s name becomes known, the person’s politics could become an issue in the heated partisan landscape.

The accusations against Trump focus on Ukraine and a call that Trump had with that country’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, in which he urges an investigation of his 2020 rival Joe Biden and Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. In turn, Trump has highlighted previous news reports that Biden, as vice president, sought the dismissal of a prosecutor who had looked into a Ukrainian-linked company on whose board of directors Hunter Biden sat. Wrongdoing has not been proven against either Biden. Trump released a memorandum of the call on September 25, 2019, sparking sharp partisan reaction as the House Democrats hurtle toward a possible impeachment.

Here’s what you need to know:


The Memo Says That the Intelligence Community Inspector General Found the Whistleblower’s Complaint Credible But Also Unearthed ‘Some Indicia of an Arguable Political Bias’ by the Whistleblower

A line from the Engel memo.

The government opinion describes some of the findings by the intelligence community inspector general (ICIG), Michael Atkinson (you can read Atkinson’s background here.). The document describes the whistleblower’s complaint as “a complaint from an intelligence-community employee about statements made by the President during a telephone call with a foreign leader.” The opinion was signed by Steven A. Engel, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel.

The opinion stated that, “The complainant alleged that unnamed ‘White House officials’ had expressed concern about the content of a telephone call between the President and a foreign leader. According to the ICIG, statements made by the President during the call could be viewed as soliciting a foreign campaign contribution in violation of the campaign-finance laws.”

According to the opinion, “Although the ICIG’s preliminary review found ‘some indicia of an arguable political bias on the part of the Complainant in favor of a rival political candidate,’ the ICIG concluded that the complaint’s allegations nonetheless appeared credible.” The report adds, “The ICIG determined that the allegation ‘appears credible’ without conducting any detailed legal analysis concerning whether the allegation, if true, would amount to an unlawful solicitation of a campaign contribution.”

The opinion continues, “the complaint arises out of a confidential diplomatic communication between the President and a foreign leader that the intelligence-community complainant received secondhand.”

However, the opinion states: “We conclude that the complaint submitted to the ICIG does not involve an ‘urgent concern’ as defined in 50 U.S.C. § 3033(k)(5)(G). As a result, the statute does not require that the DNI transmit the complaint to the intelligence committees.”

The opinion further states:

The complainant alleged that he or she had heard reports from ‘White House officials’ that, in the course of a routine diplomatic communication between the President and a foreign leader, the President had made statements that the complainant viewed as seeking to pressure that leader to take an official action to help the President’s 2020 re-election campaign. The complainant described this communication as arising during a scheduled call with the foreign leader that, consistent with usual practice, was monitored by a number of U.S. officials. Having heard about the President’s reported statements, the complainant expressed an intent to report this information to the intelligence committees.”

But who is the whistleblower?

That remains unclear; whether the name will be released is at this point unclear. The complaint is another story.


The Whistleblower’s Actual Complaint Has Now Been Declassified

Donald Trump

GettyPresident Donald Trump.

A Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee revealed on Twitter on the evening of September 25, 2019 that the whistleblower’s complaint has been declassified.

Rep. Chris Stewart, a Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee, wrote on Twitter on the evening of September 25, 2019: “BREAKING NEWS: The whistleblower complaint has been declassified. I encourage you all to read it.”

Shimon Prokupecz, a CNN reporter, wrote on Twitter a few minutes later: “Two sources confirm to CNN that the whistleblower’s report concerning President Trump’s phone conversations with the Ukrainian president, has been declassified. However the report will not be released at least until Thursday morning.” It was in fact released that morning.

Members of Congress who have already seen the complaint have had wildly different reactions. For example, Stewart, who has already read it, told Deseret News, “After reading the whistleblower complaint, I have no additional concerns.”

Others sharply disagree, as they have over Trump’s phone call with Zelensky, breaking down along partisan lines. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, told The New York Times that the whistleblower’s complaint was “deeply disturbing” and “very credible.”

CNN is reporting that the whistleblower has “tentatively agreed” to meet with members of Congress. Meanwhile, many are eager to learn more about the person’s background.

According to a report in The New York Times, the whistleblower is an “intelligence officer,” and the complaint, according to two sources, shares concerns about Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president and “also about how the White House handled records of the conversation.”

The Times article also says that the whistleblower named witnesses in the complaint who were interviewed by Michael Atkinson, inspector general for the intelligence community. According to the Times, Atkinson “concluded that there was reason to believe that the president may have illegally solicited a foreign campaign contribution” and that “the information in the complaint was credible.”

The Times reported that Atkinson “also found reason to believe that the whistleblower may not support the re-election of Trump,” and the whistleblower didn’t have firsthand information about the call.


Hunter Biden’s Board of Directorship Has Fallen Under Scrutiny

Hunter Biden Lunden Roberts

GettyHunter Biden.

Hunter Biden is the former vice president’s son whose life has been filled with tragedy and controversy. In the case of Ukraine, the controversy dates to his serving on the board of directors of, according to The New York Times, “one of Ukraine’s largest natural gas companies.”

Politifact concluded in an article exploring the issue that “Experts agree that Hunter Biden’s acceptance of the position created a conflict of interest for his father.”

How does Joe Biden fit into it all? While Hunter was on the board of directors, his dad was VP and was, according to The New York Times “browbeating Ukraine’s notoriously corrupt government to clean up its act.” You can read the full Times’ report here.

The Times added that Joe Biden, in 2016, “threatened to withhold $1 billion in United States loan guarantees if Ukraine’s leaders did not dismiss the country’s top prosecutor, who had been accused of turning a blind eye to corruption in his own office and among the political elite.” The prosecutor’s name was Viktor Shokin.

Some allege that Shokin actually stopped investigating Burisma, countering his narrative that he wanted to pursue the probe. Daria Kaleniuk, executive director of the Kyiv-based Anti-Corruption Action Center (AntAC), told Radio Free Europe that Shokin “dumped important criminal investigations on corruption associated with [former President Viktor] Yanukovych, including the Burisma case.” Furthermore, “Ukrainian prosecutors and anti-corruption advocates who were pushing for an investigation into the dealings of Burisma and its owner, Mykola Zlochevskiy, said the probe had been dormant long before Biden leveled his demand,” Radio Free Europe reports.

“Ironically, Joe Biden asked Shokin to leave because the prosecutor failed [to pursue] the Burisma investigation, not because Shokin was tough and active with this case,” Kaleniuk said to Radio Free Europe. The owner of Burisma was Mykola Zlochevsky. “Zlochevsky had been Ukraine’s ecology minister under former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, a pro-Russian leader who had been forced into exile in Russia,” James Risen wrote for Intercept.

Risen added, “The then-vice president issued his demands for greater anti-corruption measures by the Ukrainian government despite the possibility that those demands would actually increase – not lessen — the chances that Hunter Biden and Burisma would face legal trouble in Ukraine.” Read his full report here.

The prosecutor was voted out. How that ties back into Hunter Biden? The Times reported that Hunter Biden “had a stake in the outcome,” because, at the time, he was a board member for “an energy company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch” who had been a target of the fired prosecutor.

The Times described Hunter as a “Yale-educated lawyer” who had served on Amtrak’s board and boards for nonprofit organizations but didn’t have experience in Ukraine. He was paid “as much as $50,000 per month” some months for his work for Burisma Holdings, The Times reported.

The Times claimed that Hunter and his partners “were part of a broad effort by Burisma to bring in well-connected Democrats” during “the period” that the company faced probes in the Ukraine and from Obama administration officials.

The newspaper quoted Hunter Biden as saying, “I have had no role whatsoever in relation to any investigation of Burisma, or any of its officers. I explicitly limited my role to focus on corporate governance best practices to facilitate Burisma’s desire to expand globally.”

NBC News reported that the elder Biden’s role in Ukraine involved leading “the U.S. diplomatic efforts to bolster the country’s fledgling democracy and root out corruption after mass protests ousted the country’s pro-Russia president, Viktor Yanukovych.” According to NBC, Burisma, for which Hunter is no longer on the board, “had ties to Yanukovych,” raising conflict of interest concerns that the Obama White House denied. It was argued that the prosecutor was hesitant to go after any prominent members of the Yanukovych regime.

However, Bloomberg has reported that the prosecutor’s investigation into Burisma was dormant for some time before Joe Biden made his comments about Ukraine. According to Bloomberg, Joe Biden stated his comments against the prosecutor derived from U.S. frustrations that the prosecutor was soft on corruption.

In May 2019, Ukraine’s then prosecutor general “said there was no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe or Hunter Biden,” BBC reported.

What did Trump say to the president of Ukraine?

Trump released a memorandum of the call with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky. The passage about Hunter and Joe Biden says:

Trump: Good because I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair. A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved. Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney General. Rudy very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great. The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that. The other thing, There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… It sounds horrible to me.

Zelensky responded:

I wanted to tell you about the prosecutor. First of all, I understand and I’m knowledgeable about the situation. Since we have won the absolute majority in our Parliament, the next prosecutor general will be 100% my person, my candidate, who will be approved, by the parliament and will start as a new prosecutor in September. He or she will look into the situation, specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue. The issue of the investigation of the case is actually the issue of making sure to restore the honesty so we will take care of that and will work on the investigation of the case. On top of that, I would kindly ask you if you have any additional information that you can provide to us, it would be very helpful for the investigation to make sure that we administer justice in our country with regard to the Ambassador to the United States from Ukraine as far as I recall her name was Ivanovich. It was great that you were the first one who told me that she was a bad ambassador because I agree with you 100%. Her attitude towards me was far from the best as she admired the previous President and she was on his side. She would not accept me as a new President well enough.

Read the full memorandum here.

According to John Solomon, writing for The Hill: “U.S. banking records show Hunter Biden’s American-based firm, Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, received regular transfers into one of its accounts — usually more than $166,000 a month — from Burisma from spring 2014 through fall 2015, during a period when Vice President Biden was the main U.S. official dealing with Ukraine and its tense relations with Russia.”

Solomon added that Shokin “told me in written answers to questions that, before he was fired as general prosecutor, he had made ‘specific plans’ for the investigation that ‘included interrogations and other crime-investigation procedures into all members of the executive board, including Hunter Biden.'”

Politifact concluded: “Vice President Joe Biden did urge Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor, with the threat of withholding U.S. aid. But that was the position of the wider U.S. government, as well as other international institutions. We found no evidence to support the idea that Joe Biden advocated with his son’s interests in mind, as the message suggests. It’s not even clear that the company was actively under investigation or that a change in prosecutors benefited it.”

READ NEXT: Trump’s Phone Call to the Ukrainian President.

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