WASHINGTON (AP) – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi voiced concern on Friday over President Donald Trump’s comments that suggested retaliation against people who helped an intelligence whistleblower whose complaint about Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s leader is at the center of the House impeachment probe.
In the call, Trump prodded Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden.
White House officials took extraordinary steps to “lock down” information on Trump’s call, even moving a transcript of it to a secret computer system, according to the whistleblower’s complaint.
Trump lashed out on Thursday, saying whoever provided information to the whistleblower is “close to a spy.” Trump suggested that was treason, an act punishable by death.
Pelosi told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show, “I’m concerned about some of the president’s comments about the whistleblower.”
She said the House panels conducting the impeachment probe will make sure there’s no retaliation against people who provided information in the case.
Pelosi declined to provide a timeline for the House impeachment investigation, saying “the facts will lead us.”
“They will take the time that they need, and we won’t have the calendar be the arbiter,” she said, but she added, “it doesn’t have to drag on.”
She said she expects the impeachment probe to focus on Trump’s pressure on the Ukrainian president at a time when he was temporarily withholding military aid to the country.
“I think we have to stay focused, as far as the public is concerned, on the fact that the president of the United States used taxpayer dollars to shake down the leader of another country for his own political gain,” she said.
She said Trump’s actions put national security at risk.
“This is about the national security of our country, the president of the United States being disloyal to his oath of office, jeopardizing our national security and jeopardizing the integrity of our elections,” she said.
Pelosi also had some choice words for Attorney General William Barr, who is mentioned in the rough transcript the White House released this week of the July 25 call in which Trump urges Zelenskiy to work with Barr and with Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to investigate Biden.
Barr is the nation’s top law enforcement officer and has found himself repeatedly thrust into the political fray, as he did when he cast special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe as a vindication for Trump. Mueller pointedly said he was not exonerating Trump of obstructing justice.
“He’s going rogue,” Pelosi said of the attorney general, although the Justice Department insists he was unaware the Republican president had said he would help investigate a political rival.