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Republicans want to know whistleblower's White House sources, as inconsistencies in complaint emerge
Top Republicans on Thursday pushed to identify the White House officials who told a whistleblower of alleged misconduct by the Trump administration, as Democrats ramped up their impeachment inquiry -- and several apparent inconsistencies emerged in the whistleblower's complaint. Republicans specifically questioned why the whistleblower's sources in the White House didn't file a complaint themselves -- especially given that relevant whistleblower procedures do not protect second-hand complaints.
(The New York Times reported that the whistleblower is a CIA officer detailed to the White House. Fox News has not confirmed the Times' report.)
Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., a member of the House Judiciary Committee, told Fox News' "Shepard Smith Reporting" on Thursday that the administration had an apparent "leak problem," adding, "if they're leaking something that's supposed to be classified, then ... that probably is criminal in nature."
Meanwhile, an unnamed Ukrainian official told the New York Times that Kiev was not made aware that the U.S. suspended security funds until a month after President Trump's call with his counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, which calls into question the whistleblower's account and Democrats' arguments that there was a quid pro quo for the aid. Click here for more on our top story.
Whistleblower complaint on Ukraine call declassified and released, alleges Trump solicited foreign 'interference' in election
The whistleblower complaint that touched off a political firestorm in Washington was released to the public Thursday, alleging President Trump used the "power of his office to solicit interference" from Ukraine in the 2020 election -- and that White House officials subsequently tried to "lock down" records of that phone call. The rough transcript of the July call between Trump and Zelensky was already released a day earlier by the White House. (Click here to read the transcript.) It confirmed that Trump sought an investigation from Ukraine into the Biden family, though it did not show the president explicitly leveraging U.S. aid as had initially been suggested in some media reports.
The complaint is not a first-hand account of the call but goes a step further than the transcript. In the complaint, the whistleblower says that White House officials who heard the call were "deeply disturbed" by it and that White House lawyers discussed how to handle the call "because of the likelihood, in the officials' retelling, that they had witnessed the President abuse his office for personal gain." (Click here to read the complaint.)
Intel chief defends handling of Trump call complaint, spars with Schiff
The whistleblower complaint was released by the Democrat-led House Intelligence Committee ahead of Thursday's testimony from Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire. During tense testimony, Maguire defended his handling of the complaint while calling the entire controversy "unprecedented." His frustration showed at the end when House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., repeatedly pressed him to agree that the matter should be investigated. Maguire stressed that the committee now has all of the relevant information, and it's up to them to decide how to proceed.
Republican governor throws weight behind Trump impeachment inquiry, ex-lawmaker says 35 GOP senators would privately vote to impeach
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott on Thursday became the first Republican governor to back House Democrats' call for an impeachment inquiry against President Trump. Scott said at a news conference that he wasn’t surprised by the allegations that Trump repeatedly urged Ukraine’s president to “look into” Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden because he’s “watched him over the years.” Scott added, however, that he wanted to see more information before taking further action. Other moderate Republican governors have yet to weigh in on an impeachment inquiry.
Meanwhile, former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake made a bold claim on Thursday at the 2019 Texas Tribune Festival when he said "at least 35" GOP senators would privately vote for Trump's impeachment.
Active-duty military suicides spike to record high, Pentagon report says
Suicide rates among active-duty U.S. service members reached a record high in 2018, according to a Defense Department report released Thursday. The suicide rate among active duty service members was 24.8 suicides per 100,000 service members last year, the Pentagon's Annual Suicide Report (ASR) found, up from 21.9 in 2017 and 21.5 in 2016. In 2013, there were 18.5 suicides per 100,000 service members. Click here to read more.
Hillary Clinton calls Trump 'illegitimate president' and 'corrupt human tornado.'
Stephon Clark shooting: No civil rights charges, officers will return to active-duty in Sacramento.
Ex-ICE director Thomas Homan clashes with Dem at hearing on detention facilities: 'You work for me!'
‘OK’ hand gesture, ‘Bowlcut’ added to database for symbols of anti-Semitism.
SOME PARTING WORDS
Mark Levin, host of "Life, Liberty & Levin," went on "Hannity" to blast what he called a "rogue CIA agent's" whistleblower complaint against President Trump and suggested another person is behind the complaint. "A CIA agent who is a policy guy for Ukraine can't write something like this," he said.
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Fox News First is compiled by Fox News' Bryan Robinson. Thank you for joining us! Enjoy your day and weekend! We'll see you in your inbox first thing on Monday morning.