Krishnamoorthi warns Trump's stonewalling will lead to more leaks
U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi warns the Trump administration's stonewalling of the impeachment inquiry likely will lead to more whistleblowers and information leaks.
The Schaumburg Democrat, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, met with the Daily Herald Editorial Board Wednesday to discuss various national issues, including the impeachment inquiry, immigration, youth vaping epidemic, President Donald Trump's decision to pull U.S. troops from northern Syria, and the Indian military's lockdown of Kashmir.
The Constitution grants the House sole power of impeachment. The House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees are investigating Trump's actions pressuring Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son -- seen by Democrats as a foreign government's potential meddling in the 2020 election. Trump simultaneously withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in military assistance to Ukraine.
While Trump has argued there was no "quid pro quo" deal with Ukraine, that point might be moot now for Democrats.
"I do not believe you need clear evidence of a quid pro quo," Krishnamoorthi said. "The solicitation of foreign assistance in a domestic election is itself a violation of the law."
What's more troubling is evidence of a cover-up, he said, adding the director of national intelligence didn't forward the whistleblower complaint to Congress under White House pressure.
"We were in the dark that a complaint even existed until the Inspector General came to us," Krishnamoorthi said. "I find that we have no choice, at this point, but to investigate and follow the facts wherever they lead. This was a Trump-appointed Inspector General who brought forth the complaint to us of his own volition. I find him to be very credible, consistent, careful, and quite frankly, commendable. He's putting his career on the line doing this."
House Democrats have subpoenaed several top Administration officials as part of the impeachment inquiry. However, the White House has vowed to halt all cooperation, calling it an "illegitimate" investigation.
Krishnamoorthi said the Administration must allow the impeachment inquiry to go through the proper channels or risk leaks of sensitive materials.
"When you don't allow people to voice their concerns in the appropriate manner, especially with classified information ... then what happens is they start leaking. And when they leak, they might leak information ... the disclosure of which could hurt us (as a country)," he said.
Krishnamoorthi said the information could be redacted or shared with the intelligence committee in a classified setting. He added, anyone who wants to come forward with evidence of official misconduct should do so through the whistleblower process.
Concern for protecting the identity of whistleblowers is paramount with Trump's overt threats of retaliation, Krishnamoorthi said.
"I've never seen this before where we are now having to resort to maybe taking extreme precautions with whistleblower one because the president has talked about (him/her) and associates as engaging in spying or treason," Krishnamoorthi said.
Intimidation of witnesses could be viewed as obstruction, though Krishnamoorthi couldn't say whether that might lead to a separate inquiry.
"Right now, we're just trying to talk to the whistleblower," he said. "We haven't been able to talk to him or her because we haven't been able to figure out an accommodation of his or her security while at the same time bringing some transparency to the process. We don't want to have a situation where ... we wouldn't be able to question the person. We have to judge that person's credibility."
Since the release of the summary of the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, the first whistleblower's complaint and the Inspector General's report, a second whistleblower claiming firsthand knowledge of Trump's dealings with Ukraine has emerged. Last week's release of encrypted text messages between top U.S. diplomats about getting Ukraine's newly elected president to investigate Trump's political rivals has added fuel to the fire.
Nationally, and within the 8th Congressional District, public perception has shifted toward favoring an impeachment inquiry, even among Republicans and staunch Trump supporters, Krishnamoorthi said.
If the White House fails to release subpoenaed documents and blocks people from testifying, "there will be a presumption that you are doing so for the wrong reasons," he added.
The administration can't complain about Trump "being treated unfairly when they're not even participating," Krishnamoorthi said.
"We're trying to get voluntary cooperation as much as possible on a lot of these issues," Krishnamoorthi said. "I think the majority of Americans now want this inquiry to proceed. And they want it to be done expeditiously. My hope is that there will be maximum transparency on the process ... so the American people can see for themselves what's happening."
A meeting between the Daily Herald editorial board and U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi covered a range of topics. Here's where each topic is introduced on the video.
(00:04) Proposal to cap nicotine in e-cigarette pods
(06:25) "No choice but to investigate" whistle-blower complaint
(07:42) Elgin-O'Hare Expressway progress
(09:05) Evidence of "quid pro quo" not needed to proceed
(23:03) Treating President Donald Trump fairly
(31:58) Presidential candidates' tax returns must be made public; Citizens United repeal
(39:15) Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Kashmir lockdown
(40:56) Immigration: No legal provision for sending people to another country to wait for asylum
(51:18) U.S. withdrawal of troops from Syria; Turkish attack on Syrian Kurds