Earlier this month, the Senate acquitted President Donald Trump on two articles of impeachment lodged against him by House Democrats. The charges arose from a complaint filed by a so-called “whistleblower” who has still yet to be officially named.
While Democrats quickly latched on to the whistleblower’s words about Trump’s interactions with Ukraine, others were more skeptical. Among them was Jason Klitenic, a top lawyer for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) who announced this week his plans to resign.
According to Politico, Klitenic’s “decision to block a whistleblower’s complaint about President Donald Trump and Ukraine from reaching Congress helped jumpstart the impeachment inquiry” against the president.
The lawyer, who served as the DNI’s general counsel, will leave his post “early next month,” according to the outlet. He will reportedly be returning to private practice.
Klitenic to step back
Klitenic’s name became widely known last fall when he refused to furnish a copy of the whistleblower complaint to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA). Writing in a letter in September 2019, Klitenic explained:
…[B]ecause the disclosure in this case did not concern allegations of conduct by a member of the Intelligence Community or involve an intelligence activity under the DNI’s supervision, we determined, after consulting with the Department of Justice (“DOJ”), that no statute requires disclosure of the complaint to the intelligence committees.
Klitenic added that the allegations also “did not fall within the statutory definition of an ‘urgent concern'” before arguing that the alleged whistleblower was precluded from approaching members of Congress directly.
“We believe that it is important to apply the statute as it was written, because reading it to give a complainant a unilateral right to forward a complaint to the congressional intelligence committees would raise serious constitutional questions,” he contended, according to Politico.
In a subsequent letter, Klitenic rejected accusations from Schiff and others that the complaint had been mishandled, insisting instead that “handling of the complaint complied with all applicable legal provisions.”
Impeachment: Round Two?
Despite Klitenic’s assertions, House Democrats went on to pass two articles of impeachment against the president, with one accusing him of abusing his office by asking Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky to look into potential wrongdoing on the part of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, according to NPR.
The other involved alleged obstruction of Congress.
But just weeks after his acquittal, Democrats haven’t given up on the possibility of impeaching the president for a second time.
Last week, Rep. Eric Swalwell wouldn’t rule out impeaching Trump over Attorney General Bill Barr’s involvement in the sentencing of longtime Trump associate Roger Stone, who was convicted late last year of lying to Congress, The Hill reported. Is Round Two coming soon?