Whistleblower in Ukraine scandal is a CIA officer
September 26 2019 11:20 PM
Maguire, acting director of national intelligence, testifies during a House Permanent Select Committ
Maguire, acting director of national intelligence, testifies during a House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in Washington

AFP Washington

* Trump calls him a spy and refers to the act as treason

The whistleblower whose complaint has shaken the foundations of Donald Trump's presidency is a male officer of the Central Intelligence Agency who was seconded to the White House, the New York Times reported on Thursday.

The man "was detailed to work at the White House at one point" but has since returned to the CIA, the Times said, citing three people familiar with his identity.

The complaint, which describes Trump using his powers to pressure the Ukraine government to find damaging information on Democratic political rival Joe Biden, "suggested he was an analyst by training and made clear he was steeped in details of American foreign policy toward Europe," the Times said.

He also was clearly knowledgeable about Ukrainian politics and Washington's relations with Kiev, which Trump is accused of manipulating to gain advantage in next year's presidential election.

It was the first indication of the whistleblower's identity, other than previous statements saying it was either a man or a woman from the nearly million-strong intelligence community.

The person's identity is protected by US laws supporting officials who go through proper channels to report gross misconduct by their colleagues or superiors.

But the person is expected to testify soon behind closed doors in Congress, raising the prospect of exposure as more and more people learn their identity.

Earlier, President Donald Trump told staff from the US mission to the United Nations he wanted to know who provided information to a whistleblower on his phone call with Ukraine's president, likening them to a spy, two newspapers reported.

"I want to know who’s the person who gave the whistle-blower the information because that’s close to a spy," Trump was quoted as saying by the New York Times and Los Angeles Times.

"You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now," the Los Angeles Times reported.

The Los Angeles newspaper said it was given a recording of Trump's remarks by a person who attended the event in New York. The New York Times said its source was briefed on the comments and took notes.

Trump spoke on Thursday as a House of Representatives committee heard testimony from the acting US director of national intelligence on the whistleblower complaint about efforts by Trump to solicit the Ukraine government's help to investigate Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden whose son worked in Ukraine.

Upon arriving back in the Washington area later, Trump angrily denounced the Democratic-led hearing as a witch hunt.

The whistleblower report has triggered a controversy and prompted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, to launch a formal impeachment inquiry this week into the Republican president.

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