A second whistle-blower from the U.S. intelligence community has alleged wrongdoing by President Donald Trump in his dealings with Ukraine, intensifying an impeachment investigation by lawmakers that is expected to pick up speed this week.
A lawyer for the person, an intelligence official who becomes the second protected witness in the scandal, said late on October 6 that his client has first-hand knowledge that backs up allegations made in the original case.
With pressure mounting on the Republican president, Trump struck back, accusing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who announced the start of the impeachment process in September, of "high crimes and misdemeanors, and even treason."
Mark Zaid, a lawyer for the whistle-blower, said his client had spoken with the inspector general as part of an initial examination of the complaint, a move that provides them with protection from retribution.
"I can confirm that my firm and my team represent multiple whistle-blowers in connection to the underlying August 12, 2019, disclosure to the Intelligence Community Inspector General," Andrew Bakaj, a second lawyer who is part of the first whistle-blower’s legal team, said on Twitter.
Three congressional committees are investigating Trump in the impeachment probe related to a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
During the call, according to a government whistle-blower complaint, Trump had allegedly asked Zelenskiy for help in investigating Joe Biden, the former vice president and a promising presidential candidate for next year's election, as well as his son, Hunter, for his involvement with a Ukrainian energy firm.
The original whistle-blower claimed that Trump was "using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country" in the 2020 U.S. election.
Trump Claims 'Witch-Hunt'
Trump has denied the allegations and characterized the impeachment proceedings as a "witch-hunt."
The Bidens also have denied any wrongdoing.
The AP news agency, citing anonymous sources and a memo written to the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, reported on October 6 that two Soviet-born businessmen whom U.S. Donald Trump's personal attorney has publicly identified as his clients sought to reshuffle management at Ukraine's state-owned oil and gas conglomerate in their favor as they pursued liquefied natural-gas projects.
AP quoted the sources as saying that the two Florida-based entrepreneurs had also arranged meetings with Ukrainian officials for the president’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, as he investigated Trump's political and potential electoral rivals.
AP identified the two as Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, both of whom contributed generously to Trump's campaign as well as Republican campaigns, ensuring them meetings with the U.S. president, his son, Donald Trump Jr., and Republican lawmakers in recent years, according to a report by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).