An NPR member station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell Weighs In On Call Between Trump And Ukraine's President


Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California is one of the people who's seen the whistleblower complaint. He's on the House Intelligence Committee, which this evening was given access to the document. He joins us now. Welcome to the program.

ERIC SWALWELL: Thanks, Audie, for having me back.

CORNISH: Now that you've seen this complaint, who else do you want to hear from?

SWALWELL: A number of individuals and materials were invoked in the complaint. It's an alarming complaint. It's one where we should be able to hear from the whistleblower directly as soon as possible. But it only raised my concerns and other members' concerns that it is indeed urgent and credible.

CORNISH: What other avenues of inquiry did it open up to you?

SWALWELL: So can't go into that just yet, but that's why we have the acting director of national intelligence coming tomorrow to understand better, you know, what we can do. And it's really unfortunate that for the first time ever in the history of the whistleblower law for the intelligence community that we are being blocked from hearing from the whistleblower or having the full report. We did not see the full report today.

CORNISH: Now the president and his defenders say there's no quid pro quo in the White House account of the phone call released today. The president did not explicitly offer anything, he's saying, in the account of that call. Did the whistleblower complaint illuminate anymore on this issue to you?

SWALWELL: So it illuminated a lot, but I can't go into that. I will say, no one ever said that the standard is you have to have a quid pro quo. And let's back up. On the third page of the president's notes that he released today, he starts a sentence with I need to ask you a favor. And if you ask a foreign country for a favor with your election, you owe them, which means that you have to act in their interest at some point, not America's. And that's the betrayal that we're so concerned about.

CORNISH: House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler has said that the attorney general, William Barr, should recuse himself from anything related to the Ukraine issue because he was mentioned on this call by President Trump. Where are you on that?

SWALWELL: Absolutely. He actually, I believe, should be impeached as well for false testimony to Congress and also the way he's handled the Mueller report. But the fact that this was referred to him by the inspector general, who believed that a crime indeed may have been committed - and the attorney general did not have the judgment to take himself out of the case - is concerning. And again, he continues to act as the president's lawyer and not America's lawyer.

CORNISH: Does that mean a special counsel, and would you want to go down that road again?

SWALWELL: Well, no. I think we have enough here. We have an upcoming election, which gives us the urgency to act. And we have the president copping to the act. And so I think we should move forward, you know, quickly, but not hurriedly so that, you know, we can protect this upcoming election.

CORNISH: The - I want to talk more about the impeachment inquiry announced yesterday that the Intelligence Committee would be part of. You know, President Trump has so far largely resisted congressional investigations. He's fought subpoenas, claimed executive privilege. What are your options if he does not cooperate with the investigation?

SWALWELL: Well, the whistleblower complaint, the part that we were able to see today, laid out a number of witnesses and materials we're going to need to hear from. But again, I don't think we have to overdo it. You have the president's own words saying that he's asking - you see the president asking a foreign leader for help in his election. So...

CORNISH: And is this a redacted version? Or are you - sounds like you're saying you did not see the full complaint.

SWALWELL: We did not see the inspector general's investigation. We saw, you know, materials relating to the complaint today, but not everything, and certainly not enough for us to have sufficient evidence in this case.

CORNISH: So materials related to the complaint. Are you asking for more, or do you hope to get more?

SWALWELL: We have the director coming in tomorrow. We will ask for more. We're entitled to more. The whistleblower followed the law, and it's time that the acting director of national intelligence does so, too.

CORNISH: Congressman Eric Swalwell, Democratic member of the House Intel Committee, thank you for speaking with us.

SWALWELL: My pleasure, Audie. Thanks so much.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.