The intelligence community inspector general found that the whistleblower who leveled explosive allegations against President Trump concerning his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky showed indications of “political bias” and was “in favor of a rival political candidate,” a new document shows.
The Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel on Wednesday morning released an opinion on the whistleblower’s complaint, which had claimed to report a matter of “urgent concern.” The OLC determined that the complaint, though, “does not involve an ‘urgent concern’” and does not require that the director of national intelligence “transmit the complaint to the intelligence committees.”
This determination is at the heart of a disagreement that has pitted the DOJ and intelligence director against the inspector general and congressional Democrats. The latter maintain that the complaint should be turned over to Congress. Such a step is being considered, though the White House released a rough transcript Wednesday morning showing Trump indeed pressed Ukraine to look into Biden family dealings, as had been alleged. But Trump, in the transcript, did not explicitly tie the request to military aid.
Included in the OLC opinion, though, was a section that revealed the whistleblower showed indications of a “political bias” -- as Fox News first reported Tuesday -- while saying that the inspector general still believed the allegations were credible.
“Although the ICIG’s preliminary review found ‘some indica 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 opinion said.
The name of the rival candidate was not revealed in the opinion. Fox News previously reported that the whistleblower also did not have firsthand knowledge of the call, according to sources.
The OLC opinion came in conjunction with the released transcript of the president’s call with Zelensky. The whistleblower complaint 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 campaign-finance laws.”
The DOJ has not reached such a determination.
The transcript, declassified by Trump, indicates the call – which Trump made from the White House residence -- took place July 25 from 9:03 a.m. to 9:33 a.m. It begins with the president congratulating Zelensky on his election victory before Trump eventually broaches the subject former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
“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,” Trump said in the phone call. “Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it…It sounds horrible to me.”
That refers to Joe Biden, while vice president, urging Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who was investigating the natural gas firm Burisma Holdings — where Hunter Biden was on the board. Biden has maintained that corruption concerns prompted his intervention.
Trump, in the run-up to the transcript's release, was accused by Democrats of essentially pressuring a foreign power to investigate a political opponent, as Biden is now a top contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
On Monday, it was reported that Trump had even ordered his staff to freeze nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine a few days before the phone call with Zelensky, a detail that fueled impeachment calls leading to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announcing a formal impeachment inquiry Tuesday. But the call transcript does not show Trump mentioning the aid as a bargaining chip or otherwise.
The transcript shows Zelensky suggesting to Trump the Biden matter would be looked into by a new prosecutor. “He or she will look into the situation, specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue," he said. "The issue of the investigation of the case is actually the issue to restore the honesty so we will take care of that and we will work on the investigation of the case.”
The release of the transcript and of the opinion from the OLC come after Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry against Trump, answering mounting calls from her caucus to make the process official.
Democrats are seeking the whistleblower’s complaint in a full and unredacted format. The DNI general counsel said, though, after consulting with the DOJ, the matter did not meet the legal definition of “urgent concern," and was not subject to mandatory disclosure to Congress.
Fox News’ Jake Gibson, Catherine Herridge, John Roberts and Alex Pappas contributed to this report.