Donald Trump demanded to know the identities of US officials who gave a whistleblower information about his phone call with the president of Ukraine that sparked an official impeachment inquiry earlier this week, according to a new report.
Mr Trump made the comments after Congress released a whistleblower complaint in which an anonymous individual said multiple White House staffers had described being "directed" to "lock-down" evidence of the call in question.
The president reportedly told his staff that anyone who provided the whistleblower with information was “close to a spy”. He then said that “in the old days” spies were “dealt with differently,” New York Times’ Maggie Haberman wrote in a report published on Thursday afternoon.
"I want to know who’s the person who gave the whistleblower the information because that’s close to a spy,” the president said. “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart with spies and treason, right? We used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”
He then went on to reportedly refer to the media as “scum” during the meeting, which was closed off to reporters.
The comments came on Thursday morning as Mr Trump spoke before nearly 50 people at a scheduled event meant to honour the US Mission to the United Nations after a week of bilateral meetings and the major climate summit in New York, according to the report.
The whistleblower complaint was released to the public the same day, just minutes before Mr Trump’s top spy chief testified before the House Intelligence Committee about his handling of the controversial document.
Reading from the declassified complaint, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the attempts to conceal transcripts of the call “a cover-up,” while deriding the president.
She said Mr Trump "betrayed his oath of office, our national security and the integrity" of US elections.
The complaint alleged that Mr Trump abused the power of his office to "solicit interference from a foreign country" in next year's US election.
In the nine-page complaint, the unnamed whistleblower acknowledges not hearing the president's call first-hand, but says he or she received information about it from "multiple US officials."
The president has denied doing anything wrong.
Much of what the whistleblower recounts from the president's 25 July call tracks with a transcript released on Wednesday by the White House.
Additional reporting by AP
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