United States President Donald J. Trump speaks to the media after participating in the Ceremonial Swearing-In of Gene Scalia as the Secretary of Labor at the White House, Sept. 30, 2019 in Washington, D.C. A high school in Kentucky prompted a debate on social media after cheerleaders at a football game held a banner reading "Make America Great Again, Trump Those Patriots." The team they were playing was the Patriots. (Chris Kleponis/Pool/Abaca Press/TNS)

Second whistleblower emerges in Trump impeachment inquiry, lawyer says

WASHINGTON — A second whistleblower has come forward in the fast-developing impeachment inquiry against President Trump, his lawyer said Sunday.

The attorney, Mark Zaid, said the individual _ like the original whistleblower whose complaint jump-started the impeachment inquiry last month _ comes from within the intelligence community and has been in contact with the intelligence inspector general, the reporting path set out by federal law for whistleblowers.

Unlike the original whistleblower, who reported information told by others, this one has firsthand knowledge of Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, Zaid said.

Zaid, writing on Twitter, confirmed a report by ABC News that the second whistleblower was being represented by a legal team that included him. “They also made a protected disclosure under the law and cannot be retaliated against,” he tweeted.

The impeachment inquiry was triggered by the original whistleblower complaint, which centered on a July phone call in which the president urged Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky to open an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter and to look into a discredited conspiracy theory about Ukraine’s role in the 2016 election.

Biden, a front-runner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, has vehemently denied any wrongdoing, and no evidence has emerged.

The existence of the second whistleblower could galvanize what so far has been a very small contingent of Senate Republicans, led by Utah Republican Mitt Romney, who have expressed concern that the president’s actions _ soliciting the help of a foreign government to target a political rival _ might have constituted an abuse of power and a threat to national security.

Trump has furiously denounced the original whistleblower, congressional Democrats spearheading the inquiry and Romney, while seeming at the same time to implicate others in his own inner circle. On Sunday morning, he sent out back-to-back tweets saying that “the great Scam is being revealed!” and the “Do Nothing Democrats are being exposed!”

Appearing Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” the chair of the Democratic caucus, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, said the inquiry was gathering momentum.

“We think there’s growing support for the impeachment inquiry that exists, across party lines,” said Jeffries. Trump, he said, “betrayed his oath of office. He’s engaged in serious wrongdoing.”

—By Laura King

Los Angeles Times

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