The whistleblower alleges that Trump abused his power to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals on a call — and that the White House tried to conceal it.
President Donald Trump used the “power of his office” to solicit help in the 2020 elections from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and White House officials took extraordinary measures to try to conceal the contents of some of the president’s conversations, according to a partially redacted and declassified version of a whistleblower complaint released Thursday morning.
The complaint offers a damaging portrait of a president willing to use his office for political gain by asking Zelensky to investigate his political rivals — specifically former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter Biden.
“I have received information from multiple U.S. Government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election,” the whistleblower complaint says. “This interference includes, among other things, pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the President’s main domestic political rivals.”
The whistleblower also says that the president’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was a “central figure” in these efforts. Attorney General William Barr — the nation’s highest law enforcement official — “appears to be involved as well,” the complaint says.
Much of this information was hinted at in the memo of a July 25 call between Trump and Zelensky, which the White House released on Wednesday. But the whistleblower complaint also includes a new remarkable allegation: that White House officials were willing to break protocol and intervene to “lock down” all records of a phone conversation, including treating it as classified information, because those records might hurt Trump politically.
There’s one big caveat in all this: The whistleblower states that he or she was “not a direct witness to most of the events described” but found his colleagues’ accounts to be credible because “in almost all cases, multiple officials recounted fact patterns that were consistent with one another.” In other words, their stories matched up.(The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel confirmed the information was gathered secondhand in a September 24 memo.)
Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire is testifying before the House Intelligence Committee Thursday morning, and there’s likely much more to come in this saga.
But until then, here’s a roundup of some of the key takeaways from this declassified whistleblower complaint.
1) The White House knew that the July 25 call was really, really bad
2) The White House took extraordinary efforts to conceal the call
3) This may not have been the first time the White House tried to conceal transcripts
4) The whistleblower alleges that there was some official — and unofficial — follow-up to Trump’s call
5) Ukrainian officials might have understood that they needed to “play ball” with Trump
6) There are still many things we don’t know