The Wall Street Journal is reporting that President Donald Trump was briefed on the whistleblower complaint earlier than previously assumed. The Journal says that the briefing by White House counsel Pat Cipollone and National Security Council attorney John Eisenberg occurred in August, not September. That could offer significant support for the narrative of the Democrats in the ongoing impeachment effort.
The importance of the August date is not that President Donald Trump knew about the complaint but when he knew. There has been direct evidence presented on three conversations with Trump on an alleged quid pro quo. The first is the Ukrainian call and transcript. In that transcript, Trump calls for investigations but does not direct state a quid pro quo to the military aid for Ukraine. The second is a call on August 31st with Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) in which Johnson says that Trump angrily denied a quid pro quo. The third call is with Ambassador Gordon Sondland on September 9th where Trump again angrily denied the quid pro quo.
I have previously stated that the Sept. 9th call can be challenged by Democrats as occurring after Trump learned of the referral of the complaint to Congress. However, the Johnson call occurred before that time. Now, the Journal is suggesting that Trump knew about the complaint and the unfolding scandal when he spoke with Johnson. That undermines the use of the August 31st call, though Trump is still on two calls expressly denying a quid pro quo.
There still remains serious problems with the suggested articles of impeachment as well as the thin record created by the House Intelligence Committee in comparison to past impeachments. However, the Journal article raises a significant new fact on the timing of these calls.