The U.S. official whose whistleblower complaint led to the impeachment inquiry against U.S. President Donald Trump offered to answer questions from Republicans on the intelligence committee leading the inquiry, his lawyer said Sunday.
Attorney Mark Zaid tweeted, "So we have offered to @DevinNunes, Ranking HPSCI [House Intelligence Committee] Member, opportunity for Minority to submit through legal team written questions to WBer [the whistleblower]." Zaid said the action was in response to Republican efforts, led by Trump, to unmask the whistleblower - a stark departure from protocol in such cases.
(SOUND BITE) (ENGLISH) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "But the whistleblower should be revealed, because the whistleblower gave false stories.
Some people would call it a fraud." That was Trump on Sunday, who, without providing evidence, also said this about the whistleblower: (SOUND BITE) (ENGLISH) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "He's an Obama guy, and he hates Trump, and he's a radical." The whistleblower is a member of the U.S. intelligence community whose identity has not been revealed.
Republicans have complained the impeachment inquiry in the Democratic-led House of Representatives has been unfair to them and Trump, and that they've been restricted in their questioning of witnesses.
The inquiry has followed established House rules.
Appearing on CBS's "Face the Nation" Sunday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said having the whistleblower respond to written questions from Republicans wasn’t enough.
(SOUND BITE) (ENGLISH) HOUSE MINORITY LEADER KEVIN MCCARTHY, SAYING: "I think that individual should come before the committee, he could come down to the basement.
We need an openness that people understand." Trump is under increasing pressure as the House forges ahead with its investigation of whether he solicited help from Ukraine as he seeks re-election next year.
First-hand accounts from U.S. officials including National Security Council member Alexander Vindman have corroborated the whistleblower's claim that Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter, with Trump using millions in U.S. aid as leverage.
But even if House majority voted to impeach Trump, he would likely not be convicted in a trial by the Republican-controlled Senate.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, also on "Face the Nation", shrugged off the idea that the potential inability to ultimately oust Trump from office would be a "political albatross" for Democratic candidates running for the presidency in 2020 .
(SOUND BITE) (ENGLISH) HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER STENY HOYER, SAYING: "Margaret, this is not a calculation about whether this is good for us politically or bad for us politically...." (SOUND BITE) (ENGLISH) "FACE THE NATION" HOST MARGARET BRENNAN, SAYING: "But it will have political ramifications." (SOUND BITE) (ENGLISH) HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER STENY HOYER, SAYING: "It may well have, but we have a duty." House Democratic leaders expect to begin public impeachment hearings in the next few weeks.