How the White House and DOJ Learned About the Whistleblower

The intelligence official initially filed a complaint about Trump's dealings with Ukraine with their intelligence agency, which then alerted the White House and the Department of Justice

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AP

The White House and the Justice Department learned about an intelligence official's concerns about President Donald Trump around the same time the individual filed a whistleblower complaint that is now at the center of an impeachment inquiry, according to a U.S. official and another person familiar with the matter.

The intelligence official initially filed a complaint about Trump's dealings with Ukraine with their intelligence agency, which then alerted the White House and Justice. On Aug. 12, the intelligence official raised another flag, this time with the intelligence community's inspector general, a process that granted the individual more legal protections.

During that time, the inspector general's complaint, which centered on Trump's dealings with Ukraine, remained private. But information about the whistleblower was already making its way through the administration: On Aug. 14, White House counsel John Eisenberg and an intelligence agency's official alerted the head of DOJ's national security division about the original complaint to the CIA.

John Demers, who leads the national security division, went to the White House the next day to review materials associated with the call. He then alerted people within the Justice Department, but it was unclear specifically who he told.

In the following weeks, Demers had discussions with other Justice Department officials about how to handle the intelligence agency complaint, according to the person familiar with the matter. It was during that period that the Justice Department also received a notification from the intelligence community's inspector general about a whistleblower complaint.

The timeline raises questions about how the White House and the Justice Department handled the complaint. The administration initially blocked Congress from viewing the complaint, citing presidential privilege, and only released a redacted version of the report to lawmakers this week after the impeachment inquiry had begun.

The House intelligence committee released the complaint on Thursday. The nine-page letter details a July 25 phone call in which Trump presses Ukraine's leader to help investigate baseless corruption accusations against Democratic rival Joe Biden. The complaint also alleges that the White House sought to "lock down" details of the call by moving it onto a secure, classified computer system.

The complaint also details extensive interactions between Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal attorney, and Ukrainian officials.

NBC News is not identifying the agency the whistleblower worked for because the intelligence official is seeking anonymity. The Associated Press and New York Times have published information about the whistleblower's background because they said the person's credibility is central to the impeachment inquiry into the president. 

The whistleblower's attorney, Mark Zaid, said publishing details about the individual places the person in a dangerous situation, personally and professionally. 

The agency in question referred questions to the intelligence community inspector general.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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