Justice Department knew about whistleblower complaint involving Trump more than a week before referral

WASHINGTON – Justice Department national security lawyers were first alerted to the whistleblower complaint regarding President Donald Trump’s conduct involving Ukraine more than a week before the formal referral, officials briefed on the matter told CNN on Thursday.

A federal grand jury formally indicted Army soldier Jarrett William Smith, who allegedly discussed bomb-making techniques and suggested targeting a news network that sources say is CNN, according to court documents filed Wednesday.

The general counsel for one of the intelligence agencies alerted the national security division at Justice Department on August 14, as required under the agency’s rules, that they had received a complaint from an employee, the officials said. The New York Times was first to report the origin of the complaint.

Justice officials were told the complaint had to do with Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The White House was also made aware of the complaint before the formal referral, according to The New York Times

Justice Department lawyers went to the White House to review the transcript of the call. They then alerted officials at the Justice Criminal Division and the Deputy Attorney General’s Office that Attorney General William Barr was mentioned on the call. Barr was informed later that his name was mentioned.

It would be over a week before the inspector general for the intelligence community officially referred the matter to the Justice Department. The Justice Department did not comment on this story when reached by CNN.

Justice officials previously have said that Barr was informed when the criminal referral was delivered in late August. They have said that Barr was minimally involved in the issue. The office of Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen oversees day-to-day management of the department and this case was handled that way, according to Justice officials.

Justice officials have said that Barr was informed of the criminal referral when it was delivered in late August.

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