President Trump was briefed about the whistleblower complaint prompted by his dealings with Kiev before the White House lifted a hold on more than $391 million in aid to Ukraine, according to people familiar with the matter.
The president was briefed about the complaint in August by White House counsel Pat Cipollone and John Eisenberg, an attorney with the White House National Security Council, the people said. The complaint triggered the impeachment inquiry by Democrats in the House, which Trump has dismissed as a hoax.
The inquiry alleges that Trump abused the power of his office by pressing Ukraine to open investigations that could benefit him politically at a time when he had ordered congressionally approved Ukraine aid put on hold. The White House has defended the president’s actions, in part by saying there was no link between suspending the aid and the president’s request for investigations because the hold on the money was lifted in September.
The August briefing Trump received from the White House lawyers, which was earlier reported by the New York Times, indicates Trump was aware of the whistleblower complaint before he ordered the hold on aid lifted.