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Intel community watchdog appears to push back on Trump allegations of changes to whistleblower rules

The intelligence community inspector general (ICIG) on Monday appeared to push back on allegations that the rules regarding whistleblower reports had been changed shortly before the complaint regarding President TrumpDonald TrumpNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors McCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 MORE's dealings with Ukraine was filed. 

The Office of the Inspector General issued a four-page news release in which it made clear that the whistleblower complaint focused on Trump's July 25 call with the Ukrainian president was processed under procedures put in place in May 2018.

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The inspector general wrote that under the statute, a complainant is not required to have firsthand knowledge of the matter they are referring. However, the anonymous author of the Aug. 12 complaint wrote that they had both firsthand information and information from others about the subject. 

"The ICIG reviewed the information provided as well as other information gathered and determined that the complaint was both urgent and that it appeared credible," the Office of the Inspector General said in Monday's news release. "From the moment the ICIG received the whistleblower’s filing, the ICIG has worked to effectuate Congress’s intent, and the whistleblower’s intent, within the rule of law. The ICIG will continue in those efforts on behalf of all whistleblowers in the Intelligence Community."

The clarification came as Trump and Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamOvernight Defense: Biden sends message with Syria airstrike | US intel points to Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi killing | Pentagon launches civilian-led sexual assault commission Graham: Trump will 'be helpful' to all Senate GOP incumbents John Boehner tells Cruz to 'go f--- yourself' in unscripted audiobook asides: report MORE (R-S.C.) have claimed the rules for filing a complaint were changed just before the whistleblower on the Ukraine call came forward.

"This is a sham as far as I am concerned," Graham said on "Face the Nation" on Sunday. "I want to know who told the whistleblower about the phone call. I want to know why they changed the rules about whistleblowers not — the hearsay rule was changed just a short period of time before the complaint was filed."

Trump echoed the senator on Monday, asking in all caps "who changed the long standing whistleblower rules just before submittal of the fake whistleblower report?" 

Sens. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGrassley to vote against Tanden nomination Grassley says he'll decide this fall whether to run in 2022 Yellen deputy Adeyemo on track for quick confirmation MORE (R-Iowa), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Key vote for Haaland's confirmation | Update on oil and gas leasing | SEC update on climate-related risk disclosure requirements Haaland on drilling lease moratorium: 'It's not going to be a permanent thing' Overnight Health Care: US surpasses half a million COVID deaths | House panel advances Biden's .9T COVID-19 aid bill | Johnson & Johnson ready to provide doses for 20M Americans by end of March MORE (R-Utah) and Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGraham: Trump will 'be helpful' to all Senate GOP incumbents Partisan headwinds threaten Capitol riot commission Cruz hires Trump campaign press aide as communications director MORE (R-Wis.) wrote to Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson on Monday asking for clarity about a reported change in the whistleblower complaint process that no longer required complainants to have firsthand knowledge.

Those senators wrote to Atkinson that they were not aware of any federal regulation that required whistleblowers to have firsthand knowledge, and they sought information on why such a policy might have been enacted.

The whistleblower complaint was made public last week. The individual's recounting of events matched up with a rough White House transcript of Trump's call with the Ukrainian president in which he urged the foreign leader to "look into" Democratic presidential candidate Joe BidenJoe BidenNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors Biden celebrates vaccine approval but warns 'current improvement could reverse' MORE.

The whistleblower further alleged that the White House sought to conceal the contents of the call and restrict access to the transcript to a small group of people.

The president has railed against the whistleblower, accusing the individual of being partisan and decrying their allegations as secondhand information. Trump has said he does not know the whistleblower's identity but told reporters earlier Monday that the White House was working on learning it.

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.

Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire last week called the complaint "credible" and said the whistleblower "did the right thing."