"He told me it was perfect, that there was nothing on the call," Pelosi said on CBS News' "60 Minutes," referring to a conversation she had with President Trump before the Trump administration released either a transcript of his call with Ukraine's leader or the whistleblower's complaint, quickly adding: "But, I know what was in the call. I mean, uh, it was in the public domain."
The remark drew scrutiny from Republicans because no verbatim account of Trump's call had yet been made publicly available, with Republican Rep Liz Cheney raising the question of what did Pelosi know and when did she know it.
.@SpeakerPelosi said on 60 Minutes last night she knew the details of the classified Ukraine call before White House released transcript. This is starting to seem like a political set up. So, Madame Speaker, “what did you know and when did you know it?” pic.twitter.com/g5tlL5hBsX— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) September 30, 2019
Pelosi communications director Ashley Etienne told Fox News that Pelosi was referring only to publicly available information, and that Cheney had misinterpreted the question Pelosi had been asked. Etienne said that to her knowledge, Pelosi was not made aware of the whistleblower complaint or the contents of the transcript before they were publicly released.
Cheney's comments came as Republicans on Monday challenged intelligence community officials to explain why a key whistleblower form apparently was changed to drop a requirement for "firsthand information," questioning whether the timing was related to the explosive complaint on Trump’s call with the leader of Ukraine.
According to a report by The Federalist, a key form was revised recently to drop a requirement that such complaints include firsthand information in order to be sent to Congress. Although the firsthand requirement was not found in relevant law, it was seemingly an important procedural detail: the whistleblowers were required to certify that they had firsthand information, and were told their complaints would not be processed otherwise.
Office of the Inspector General of the Intelligence, however, revealed on Monday that the whistleblower had said he or she had firsthand information, as well as secondhand information, while also filling out the older version of the form – which does not contain the requirement that whistleblowers have firsthand information. It remained unclear what the firsthand information was.
The anonymous complaint, which spurred congressional Democrats to start an impeachment inquiry last week, was based primarily on secondhand accounts from "more than half a dozen US officials," according to recent reports.
House Democrats’ impeachment proceedings against Trump come after the contents of the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky have upended US politics, especially following the revelation that a hushed-up whistleblower complaint from an administration insider concerned their talk. In the call, the transcript of which was made public last week, Trump asked Zelensky to open an investigation in connection with the elder Biden's pressing Kiev to end a 2016 corruption investigation of a company on whose board Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, sat. Trump then blocked the director of national intelligence from releasing a whistleblower complaint about the call to the House Intelligence Committee, prompting the inquiry announced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.