Trump accused: ‘This is a cover-up’
An intelligence community whistleblower's complaint shows President Donald Trump has undermined national security and tried to cover it up, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.
Ms Pelosi said at a press conference on Thursday that allegations Mr Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rival Joe Biden, and that White House officials tried to hide it, show he "betrayed his oath of office, our national security and the integrity" of US elections.
"This is a cover up," she said.
Speaker Pelosi made the comments just after the release of a whistleblower complaint at the centre of Congress' impeachment inquiry, and a subsequent testimony by Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence.
The complaint alleges Mr Trump abused the power of his office to "solicit interference from a foreign country" in next year's US election, in several instances including his July phone call with Ukraine's leader Volodymyr Zelensky.
The complaint says senior White House figures then tried to "lock down" the information to cover it up, which left colleagues "deeply disturbed."
Denying any wrongdoing, Mr Trump was ropeable following the release of the whistleblower's letter and three hours of testimony by Mr Maguire to the House Intelligence Committee.
According to the New York Times, at a private event on Thursday morning in New York the President said any official who spoke to the whistleblower was "close to a spy" and insinuated they should be severely punished.
"I want to know who's the person who gave the whistleblower the information because that's close to a spy," Mr Trump said.
"You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart with spies and treason, right? We used to handle it a little differently than we do now."
Joe Biden, the former US Vice-President and 2020 presidential hopeful at the centre of the scandal, tweeted following the House hearing with Mr Maguire.
"We have a President who believes there is no limit to his power, who believes he can do anything and get away with it, and who believes he is above the law," Mr Biden tweeted.
"This isn't a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. This is a national issue."
We have a President who believes there is no limit to his power, who believes he can do anything and get away with it, and who believes he is above the law.— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 26, 2019
This isn’t a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. This is a national issue.
Kamala Harris, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for the 2020 presidential election, echoed Ms Pelosi's sentiment, also calling the alleged actions of Mr Trump and senior White House staff a "cover-up".
"White House officials must be subpoenaed to testify under oath about what else they may have covered up for Donald Trump," she tweeted.
White House officials must be subpoenaed to testify under oath about what else they may have covered up for Donald Trump. pic.twitter.com/IX03lydF1g— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) September 26, 2019
Fellow 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Amy Klobuchar tweeted that "the President is abusing his power and shredding the Constitution".
The whistleblower complaint makes clear that the President repeatedly asked a foreign government to interfere in our elections and then the White House tried to cover it up. The President is abusing his power and shredding the Constitution.— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) September 26, 2019
Republican senator Lindsey Graham, one of the President's closest allies, tried to hose down the allegations made in the complaint.
"Clearly a co-ordinated effort to take second-hand information to create a narrative damaging to the President," Mr Graham tweeted.
"When I think of whistleblower complaints I generally think of someone with first-hand knowledge of the events in question."
As to the other matters in complaint: Clearly a coordinated effort to take second-hand information to create a narrative damaging to the President.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) September 26, 2019
When I think of whistleblower complaints I generally think of someone with first-hand knowledge of the events in question.