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Answers to some of your questions about the Trump-Ukraine whistle-blower scandal

Doug Mills/The New York Times

This week, House Democrats announced that they would start a formal impeachment inquiry in regards to the burgeoning Trump-Ukraine whistle-blower ordeal. We asked readers what they wanted to know more about impeachment itself, as well as Trump’s actions. Below are answers to some of your questions.

Why did Joseph Maguire, the acting intelligence chief, hold on to the whistle-blower’s complaint?

Maguire told the House Intelligence Committee that he consulted with the White House counsel’s office because the complaint included details of President Trump’s phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which meant the president had executive privilege over it. He said that was “a privilege that I did not have authority to waive.”


He also said the IC [Intelligence Community] Whistle-blower Act required him to forward the complaint to Congress if it was a serious problem and if it involved someone in the intelligence community. Since Trump is “outside the Intelligence Community” his office consulted with the Department of Justice, which found the complaint did not meet the legal standard and didn’t have to be released.

The White House later dropped its resistance to releasing both a rough transcript of the phone call and the whistle-blower complaint.

How long before the leaked phone conversation took place did Trump put a hold on the Ukraine aid?

Trump told his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, in mid-July to hold back almost $400 million in military aid to Ukraine. The whistle-blower said in the complaint the word went out on July 18 and neither Office of Management and Budget nor National Security Council staff knew why the instruction had been issued. Trump and Zelensky spoke for 30 minutes on the telephone on July 24 and Trump repeatedly prodded the new leader to investigate his Democratic political rival Joe Biden and his son.

When will the Democrats hold a formal vote to open up an impeachment inquiry?

During the Nixon and Clinton impeachment efforts, the full House voted for resolutions directing the House Judiciary Committee to open the inquiries. But it is not clear whether that step is strictly necessary, because impeachment proceedings against other officials, like a former federal judge in 1989, began at the committee level.


Pelosi is reportedly planning to move forward without a resolution.

At her news conference Tuesday announcing the impeachment inquiry, she said she had directed the chairmen of the six committees that have already been investigating Mr. Trump to “proceed under that umbrella of impeachment inquiry.” In a closed-door meeting earlier in the day, she said the panels should put together their best cases on potentially impeachable offenses by the president and send them to the Judiciary Committee, two officials familiar with the conversation told The New York Times.

Who is the whistle-blower?

The whistle-blower’s identity has not been released.

Maguire, the intelligence chief who testified Thursday before the House Intelligence Committe about releasing the whistle-blower’s complaint, said that he doesn’t know the person’s identity, and that no one in the administration has asked him to find it.

He also said the intelligence community’s inspector general, who received the report, was “properly protecting” the whistleblower’s identity.

“And of course, you will do everything you can to protect the whistle-blower from any attempts to retaliate against him or her, correct?” Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois asked.

“I will not permit the whistle-blower to be subject to any retaliation or adverse consequences for going to the IG. I am absolutely committed to that,” Maguire replied.

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Material from The New York Times was used in this report.