November 20, 2019 / 9:57 PM / 23 days ago

FBI sought to interview whistleblower over complaint about Trump: source

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An investigator from the FBI tried in October to arrange an interview with the intelligence official whose complaint led to a congressional impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Donald Trump’s dealings on Ukraine, a source familiar with the matter said.

U.S. President Donald Trump holds what appears to be a prepared statement and handwritten notes after watching testimony by U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland at House Intelligence Committee impeachment hearings, as he speaks to reporters prior to departing for travel to Austin, Texas from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., November 20, 2019. REUTERS/Erin Scott

The Federal Bureau of Investigation contacted the lawyers of the unidentified whistleblower to ask for an interview about the complaint filed with the Intelligence Community Inspector General watchdog, the source told Reuters on Wednesday.

The impeachment inquiry centers on Trump's request here during a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that Kiev investigate Democratic political rival Joe Biden's son, who had served on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

The source did not provide further details regarding the FBI’s specific interest. The FBI received a referral from the intelligence watchdog about the contents of the complaint, according to U.S. media reports. Department of Justice attorneys reviewed the complaint and decided not to investigate the matter as a campaign finance violation by Trump, officials said.

The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Supporters of the whistleblower and Trump’s critics say the whistleblower’s written account has been confirmed and superseded by other officials who have testified both in private and public in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In the complaint, the whistleblower expressed concern about the call, reporting that Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, were “pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the President’s main political rivals.”

Yahoo News first reported on Wednesday that an agent based in the FBI’s Washington Field Office asked to interview the whistleblower in October.

The whistleblower’s complaint was submitted to the Inspector General in early August. The whistleblower had first approached a staff member of the House Intelligence Committee. The panel was in the fourth day of hearings on Wednesday.

Trump’s fellow-Republican supporters have demanded that the whistleblower testify before Congress but Democratic lawmakers want the person’s identity protected.

Reporting By Mark Hosenball; editing by Grant McCool

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