One of the Trump team’s go-to defenses against the administration-enveloping scandal in Ukraine is that the whistle-blower who broke open the cover-up effort had only secondhand information on the president’s behavior; Trump, Lindsey Graham, and others deride this as “hearsay.” (That the talking point isn’t accurate — the whistle-blower indicated they did have firsthand information — hasn’t proven all that important to the White House.) With the revelations this weekend that a second whistle-blower is preparing to file their own complaint, and that the attorney representing the first intelligence officer is representing “multiple” officials with similar claims, another rebuttal has been knocked down.
On Friday, intelligence community inspector general Michael Atkinson informed lawmakers that he had verified the account of a second whistle-blower with firsthand information. The second intelligence official reportedly has more information than the first whistle-blower, and emerged in Atkinson’s search to corroborate the information of the first.
As this second intelligence official considers coming forward with a complaint, another whistle-blower has sought legal representation from Mark Zaid, an attorney on the first whistle-blower’s legal team. Speaking with the Washington Post, Zaid said he wasn’t sure if the second whistle-blower was the same person that Atkinson verified, and that he or she “doesn’t need to” file an official complaint, as they have “first-hand knowledge that supported the first whistle-blower.”
Showing just how exposed the White House is on this scandal, another lawyer on the first whistle-blower’s legal team added Sunday that he’s representing “multiple whistle-blowers.”
With a handful of intelligence officials coming forward to report the president’s behavior, it’s less likely that the Trump administration will be able to shoot down their concerns, though it won’t stop the president from trying: Over the weekend, he (incorrectly) tweeted about the second whistle-blower “coming in from the Deep State, also with second hand info” after meeting with “Shifty,” his nickname for House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff. With more whistle-blowers coming forward, it’s also possible that more information about the Zelensky call and the cover-up efforts will emerge, making it less likely for just one fall guy to take the hit on this.