A newly filed complaint to the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) alleged that the initial whistleblower who triggered the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump might have violated federal law by indirectly soliciting hundreds of thousands of dollars via GoFundMe.
The complaint obtained by the Fox News on Nov. 12, claimed that donations from 6,000 people “clearly constitute” gifts to a current intelligence official, adding that donations may have come from prohibited sources.
It asked the ICIG to investigate if any “foreign citizen or agent of a foreign government” contributed to the person’s fund given the majority of the GoFundMe donors to the whistleblower’s campaign were not named, and it’s not clear if they were U.S. citizens.
Anthony Gallo, a managing partner of Tully Rinckey PLLC, the law firm representing the person reporting the allegations, told Fox News, “I have not seen anything on this scale,” in reference to the fundraising. “It’s not about politics for my client—it’s whistleblower-on-whistleblower, and [my client’s] only interest is to see the government ethics rules are being complied with government-wide.”
According to Fox News, the Office of Government Ethics actually took the step earlier this year of warning all federal government employees that they “may not accept any gift given because of the employee’s official position,” meaning that the gift would “not have been given had the employee not held the status, authority, or duties associated with the employee’s federal position.”
The new ICIG complaint alleged that more than $270,000 donations through GoFundMe page were a “gift” to a federal employee and that they were made because of the person’s official “status, authority, or duties.” It also alleged that the whistleblower and his legal team might be exploiting their access to confidential information.
“[My] client believes … that the federal employee you are protecting and their attorneys apparently have strategically weaponized their alleged whistleblowing activities into a very lucrative money-making enterprise using a charity incorporated under a different name than the trade name it is using for fundraising purposes, which would appear to my client to be a clear abuse of the federal employee’s authority and access to classified information,” Gallo wrote in the letter to the ICIG.
“We are requesting you investigate whether [criminal statutes or regulations have] been violated by the federal employee you are protecting when they reportedly requested an investigation into a matter that they had no direct personal knowledge of, and on account of which they were able to obtain sizeable gifts from unknown persons because of their official duty.” he concluded.
The initial whistleblower’s attorney, Andrew Bakaj, responded in a statement also provided to Fox News: “Any fundraising efforts for the Intelligence Community Whistleblower have complied with federal laws, including ethics requirements. Should any governmental agency properly inquire, we would, of course, cooperate.”
The whistleblower’s complaint alleged that President Donald Trump abused his power of office and engaged in quid pro quo activities with Ukraine when he pressed the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. Both presidents Trump and Zelenskiy have denied any wrongdoing, saying that there was no “pressure” and “blackmail.”
Zaid has made a slew of tweets about the beginning of a “coup” against President Trump since 2017 and recently condemned GOP request for the whistleblower’s public testimony.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called the Democratic-led impeachment a “sham,” saying, “What you have is a coup being orchestrated by left-wingers in the bureaucracy, left-wingers in the news media, and left-wingers in the House Democrats.”