Trump escalates attacks on whistleblower

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump reversed course on flavored e-cigarette ban over fear of job losses: report Trump to award National Medal of Arts to actor Jon Voight Sondland notified Trump officials of investigation push ahead of Ukraine call: report MORE on Monday escalated his attacks on the anonymous whistleblower who filed a complaint raising concerns about his conduct on a call with Ukraine, which has greatly increased the chances he could be impeached by the House.

The president began the week with a torrent of tweets lashing out at the whistleblower in a continuation of his criticisms from a night earlier. Trump has grown increasingly focused on targeting the individual's credibility, even as his own director of national intelligence called the complaint "credible" and said the whistleblower "did the right thing."

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"The Fake Whistleblower complaint is not holding up. It is mostly about the call to the Ukrainian President which, in the name of transparency, I immediately released to Congress & the public," Trump tweeted. "The Whistleblower knew almost nothing, its 2ND HAND description of the call is a fraud!"

Trump followed up by tweeting the hashtag "#FakeWhistleblower," and questioned in all caps who had changed the rules surrounding whistleblower complaints shortly before the one accusing him of wrongdoing had been submitted.

The latter point echoed a criticism of Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy GOP eager for report on alleged FBI surveillance abuse Johnson opens door to subpoenaing whistleblower, Schiff, Bidens MORE (R-S.C.), one of Trump's most ardent defenders, who cast doubt on the legitimacy of the whistleblower complaint on Sunday's "Face the Nation." Trump tweeted a video of that interview on Sunday.

The complaint, which was filed in August and made public last week, raised concerns that Trump urged the Ukrainian president on a July 25 call to look into Democratic presidential candidate Joe BidenJoe BidenSondland notified Trump officials of investigation push ahead of Ukraine call: report Biden says he won't legalize marijuana because it may be a 'gateway drug' Impeachment hearings don't move needle with Senate GOP MORE. The complaint further outlined how the White House sought to conceal the call's contents and limit the number of people with access to the transcript.

The complaint largely aligns with the White House's rough transcript of the call. The author of the complaint acknowledged they were not present for the exchange, however.

Trump has been fixated on the whistleblower in the time since, though he has admitted he does not know the person's identity. He has only offered blanket defenses of his conduct, saying his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was "perfect."

"Again, the President of Ukraine said there was NO (ZERO) PRESSURE PUT ON HIM BY ME. Case closed!" Trump tweeted Monday.

The president on Sunday night tweeted that he wanted to meet the individual behind the whistleblower complaint, as well as whoever provided information to the whistleblower.

"Was this person SPYING on the U.S. President? Big Consequences!" Trump tweeted.

The Whistleblower Protection Act makes it a violation for federal agencies to threaten retaliation against individuals who come forward to raise concerns of wrongdoing within the government.

Lawyers representing the whistleblower behind the complaint involving Trump's conduct with Ukraine wrote to the chairman of the House and Senate Intelligence committees expressing concern for their client's safety.

The complaint, coupled with the White House transcript of the July 25 call, has accelerated the impeachment inquiry into Trump in the House, with Democrats accusing the president of abusing his office and putting his personal interests ahead of national security interests.