Lawmakers express concern after reading whistleblower report

Members urge patience, even public release of the complaint so the American people can see it for themselves

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., holds a press conference on impeachment in the Capitol on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., holds a press conference on impeachment in the Capitol on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Posted September 25, 2019 at 8:21pm

Some lawmakers expressed concerns Wednesday evening after reading a divisive whistleblower report that House and Senate Intelligence committee members were allowed to review in secure Capitol rooms. 

Democratic lawmakers and even a Republican said the complaint raised concerns, but many urged patience and called for public release of the complaint so the American people could see it for themselves. The complaint was delivered to the Intelligence panels before the House voted 421-0 Wednesday evening to adopt a nonbinding resolution urging the administration to make the complaint itself available to Congress.

[Whistleblower complaint delivered to Intel committees, House still votes for its release]

Sen. Ben Sasse told NBC News, “there’s obviously some really troubling things here.” But the Nebraska Republican urged caution and careful deliberation, saying both parties should “slow down” before Democrats begin using the word impeach, or Republicans begin to “circle the wagons.”

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Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., a member of leadership who sits on the Intelligence Committee, read the complaint Wednesday and he said he was looking forward to hearing more on Thursday.

[Democrats focusing impeachment inquiry on Trump pressuring Ukraine]

“I think first of all, in this particular case there’s not going to be that much information to have put together. I think that argues for some patience to do that. I look forward to the fact that the acting director of national intelligence will be with the Intel Committee tomorrow, and the inspector general … for the intelligence community will be there tomorrow,” Blunt said. “I think also at some point very quickly we need to talk to the Justice Department.”

The complaint was received Aug. 12 by the inspector general of the intelligence community. Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire is scheduled to testify Thursday in front of the House Intelligence Committee on how the complaint was processed and handled. 

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said he wants the complaint to be made publicly available.

“The public has a right to read the whistleblower’s complaint for themselves. The contents of the complaint should be made public immediately,” said Schumer in a statement.

“Very compelling,” Rep. Peter Welch, a Vermont Democrat who sits on House Intelligence, told CNN. 

He expressed concern that it was not transmitted to the committee sooner, and said he hoped it would be made available to the public. 

“This is information that the public is entitled to know,” he said. 

New York Republican Elise Stefanik joined Schumer and other Democrats in calling for the complaint to be released to the public.

“I have just read the whistleblower complaint made available to House Intelligence Committee Members. I believe strongly in transparency and it should be immediately declassified and made public for the American people to read,” Stefanik tweeted.

Illinois Democrats Mike Quigley and Raja Krishnamoorthi both described the complaint as disturbing.

“It’s very disturbing. The complaint is detailed and it lays out the situation very logically and with credibility,” Krishnamoorthi told reporters.

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said the complaint provided additional information that his committee will follow up on, and Rep. Eric Swalwell said the complaint laid out other witnesses and subjects.

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Katherine Tully-McManus, Kellie Mejdrich, Niels Lesniewski and Michael Macagnone contributed to this report.