Weeks before the Trump Ukraine whistleblower's complaint was made public, a top CIA lawyer made what she said was a criminal referral to the Justice Department on the whistleblower's claim Trump abused the powers of the presidency in pressuring Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden.
"The move by the CIA's general counsel, Trump appointee Courtney Simmons Elwood, meant she and other senior officials had concluded a potential crime had been committed, raising more questions about why the Justice Department later closed the case without conducting an investigation," report Ken Dilanian and Julia Ainsley at NBC News:
[A] timeline provided by U.S. officials familiar with the matter shows that multiple senior government officials appointed by Trump found the whistleblower's complaints credible, troubling, and worthy of further inquiry starting soon after the president's July phone call.
While that timeline and the CIA general counsel's contact with the DOJ has been previously disclosed, it has not been reported that the CIA's top lawyer intended the call to be a criminal referral about the president's conduct, acting under rules set forth in a memo governing how intelligence agencies should report allegations of federal crimes.
The fact that she and other top Trump administration political appointees saw potential misconduct in the whistleblower's early account of alleged presidential abuses puts a new spotlight on the Justice Department's later decision to decline to open a criminal investigation — a decision that the Justice Department said publicly was based purely on an analysis of whether the president committed a campaign finance law violation.
CIA's top lawyer made criminal referral on whistleblower's complaint about Trump conduct [nbcnews.com, Oct. 4, 2019, 1:31 PM PDT, reporting by Ken Dilanian and Julia Ainsley]