After representing the first whistleblower to come forward with claims President Donald Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden, attorney Mark Zaid has been hired to represent a second whistleblower alleging the claim.
Zaid said his second client to come forward has more direct knowledge of claims of improper behavior by Trump during a July phone call, ABC News reported Sunday.
The first whistleblower has been described as a CIA official detailed to the White House. The second whistleblower is also reportedly a member of the intelligence community and has reportedly spoken with the Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson.
While the first whistleblower’s claims largely consisted of secondhand interactions with the allegations, the second whistleblower is claiming to have firsthand knowledge of some of the allegations the first whistleblower made.
It is not yet clear as to which allegations the new whistleblower can add further knowledge. Trump’s White House made the first whistleblower’s complaint available to the public at the end of September. Among its allegations, the complaint said Trump sought to pressure Zelensky to take actions specifically to help Trump’s 2020 re-election bid.
Among the allegations, Trump reportedly asked Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joseph Biden and his son, Hunter Biden; requested Zelensky look into allegations that the claims of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election actually began in the Ukraine; and that Zelensky meet with Attorney General Bill Barr and Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
The original complaint further alleges Trump administration officials made efforts to help Zelensky navigate Trump’s demands while also suggesting Trump took unusual steps to classify the call.
Prior to releasing the whistleblower complaint, Trump’s whitehouse did shed some light on his call with Zelensky through a transcript of their conversation. Within the transcript, Trump did bring up Crowdstrike, a U.S. cybersecurity firm connected with allegations of Russian election interference.
“I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a
lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine,” Trump said to Zelensky.
After Trump brought up Crowdstrike and raised the prospect that a number of claims about 2016 U.S. election interference began in the Ukraine, Zelensky did ask to speak with Giuliani.
The conversation of the two presidents did eventually turn to Biden, amid allegations fueled by a video recording, that Biden pressured Ukrainian officials to fire a prosecutor investigating a Ukrainian gas company, Burisma, where his son Hunter sat on its board of directors.
“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. “Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it … It sounds horrible to me.”
It is not entirely clear what action Trump’s “look into it” was meant to convey against Biden, his son or the Burisma gas company, but those comments have been coupled with a Trump administration effort to stall a $391 million defense aid package to the Ukraine to suggest Trump was proposing a quid pro quo of providing aid to the Ukraine if Zelensky took official action to harm Biden’s presidential campaign prospects.
Zelensky himself has denied claims he was pressured by Trump.
“Nobody pushed me,” Zelensky during a joint press conference with Trump.
Ukrainian prosecutors are reportedly revisiting the case against Burisma to determine if the case was improperly closed or to determine if “illegal procedural steps were taken.”