U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) speaks during a news conference about impeachment proceedings at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., September 25, 2019. REUTERS/Al Drago
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee said on Sunday Congress is determined to get access to President Donald Trump’s calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin and other world leaders, citing concerns he may have jeopardized national security.
“I think the paramount need here is to protect the national security of the United States and see whether in the conversations with other world leaders and in particular with Putin that the president was also undermining our security in a way that he thought would personally benefit his campaign,” Democrat Adam Schiff said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Following a whistleblower complaint that Trump, a Republican, solicited a political favor from Ukraine’s president that could help him get re-elected, the lawmakers are investigating concerns that Trump’s actions have jeopardized national security and the integrity of U.S. elections.
The intelligence committee has reached an agreement with the whistleblower to appear before the panel, Schiff told ABC’s “This Week”
Lawmakers were working out logistics to protect the person’s identity and also get security clearance for lawyers who will be representing the whistleblower. He hopes the whistleblower can appear very soon, Schiff said.
The whistleblower’s complaint cited a telephone call in which Trump asked President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to launch an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Hunter Biden sat on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.
Joe Biden is a leading candidate in the race to challenge Trump in the November 2020 presidential election.
The complaint said White House lawyers directed that an electronic summary of the call, which was released to the public on Wednesday, be moved from the place where such things are usually kept to a secret server reserved for covert matters.
“If those conversations with Putin or with other world leaders are sequestered in that same electronic file that is meant for covert action, not meant for this, if there’s an effort to hide those and cover those up, yes we’re determined to find out,” Schiff said on NBC.
Reporting by Doina Chiacu and David Morgan; Editing by Lisa Shumaker