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The FBI wants to hear from the whistleblower who first triggered the controversy over President Donald Trump’s July 25 phone call with the president of Ukraine, according to two reports.
Citing unnamed sources, Yahoo News reported that an FBI field agent has made contact with a lawyer representing the whistleblower. However, an interview has not yet taken place, Yahoo News said.
NBC News later reported that an unnamed source had largely confirmed the account from Yahoo News. Neither the FBI nor Mark Zaid, an attorney for the whistleblower, would comment on the matter to Yahoo.
Yahoo News reported the range of questions to be asked was not clear, though the outlet said the threats that have allegedly been made against the whistleblower are believed to be outside the scope of the proposed interview.
The initial complaint concerning the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was reviewed by the Justice Department in September, according to The Washington Post.
The Justice Department review focused upon whether the conversation violated campaign finance laws.
Kerri Kupec, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said in a statement that “there was no campaign finance violation and that no further action was warranted.”
“All relevant components of the Department agreed with his legal conclusion, and the Department has concluded the matter,” she said.
In its reporting, NBC said Justice Department officials “have never explained why they did not consider questions of bribery, extortion or other possible crimes.”
However, during Tuesday’s House Intelligence Committee hearing, Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York zeroed in on those issues in her questioning of Tim Morrison, a former top National Security Council official who listened in on the July 25 call.
Yahoo News reported that a “former senior U.S intelligence official who has discussed the matter with current FBI counterintelligence agents” indicated some FBI officials wanted to examine the whistleblower complaint from a counterintelligence perspective.
The source told Yahoo News the FBI’s concern was that Rudy Giuliani, who is Trump’s lawyer and has delved into Ukrainian issues on Trump’s behalf, might have been played by Russian interests.
“There were guys within the [intelligence community] who believe this is another Russian attempt,” the former official said. “People think Giuliani is being led down the primrose path.”
The Yahoo News report painted a picture of an FBI torn between investigating potential Russian manipulation and wanting to avoid an endless rabbit hole of investigating that leads nowhere.
The whistleblower complaint included one section highlighted by Yahoo News that reads, “I am also concerned that these actions pose risks to U.S. national security and undermine the U.S. Government’s efforts to deter and counter foreign interference in U.S. elections.”