The complaint not only alleges that Trump sought foreign assistance in investigating Joe Biden, a potential political rival, and Biden’s son, Hunter, but that White House officials then engaged in an effort to conceal the president’s actions.
The whistleblower, whose name is being kept confidential, reported receiving “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. This interference includes, among other things, pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the president’s main domestic political rivals.”
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In the complaint, the whistleblower also names Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, as a “central figure” in the effort, and that Attorney General William Barr “appears to be involved as well.”
The release of the complaint was the latest twist in a fast-moving scandal, one that already has compelled House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to announce an impeachment investigation of Trump.
On Wednesday, the White House released a non-verbatim transcript notes of a July 25 conversation that Trump had with Zelensky, in which the president asks him to investigate the Bidens.
Broadcast and cable news networks today were providing live coverage of an intelligence committee hearing in which Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, is testifying. Democrats on the committee want to know why the whistleblower complaint was not quickly turned over to Congress.
“This complaint is a roadmap for our investigation, and provides significant information for the committee to follow up on with other witnesses and documents,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the chairman of the committee. “And it is corroborated by the call record released yesterday.”
The complaint, dated on August 12, can be viewed here.
The whistleblower said in the complaint, “I was not a direct witness to most of the events described.” But it is based on colleagues accounts of events found credible because, “in almost all cases, multiple officials recounted fact patterns that were consistent with one another.”
The whistleblower wrote that the White House officials who relayed information about the call were “deeply disturbed by what transpired.”
“They told me that there was already a ‘discussion ongoing’ with White House lawyers about how to treat the call because of the likelihood, in the officials’ retelling, that they had witnessed the president abuse his office for personal gain,” the whistleblower wrote.
The whistleblower then described an effort to restrict access to records related to the call.
“In the days following the phone call, I learned from multiple U.S. officials that senior White House officials had intervened to ‘lock down’ all records of the phone call, especially the official word-for-word transcript of the call that was produced — as is customary — by the White House Situation Room. This set of actions underscored to me that White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call.”
The whistleblower noted that on July 18, the Office of Management and Budget informed departments and agencies that Trump had issued instructions earlier in the month to suspend “all U.S. security assistance to Ukraine.”
“Neither OMB or NSC staff knew why this instruction had been issued,” the whistleblower said.
Trump has denied that there was a “quip pro quo,” or the releasing of U.S. aid to the Ukraine if Zelensky opened an investigation of the Bidens. He has called the whistleblower story a “hoax” and the Democrats’ investigation a “witch hunt.”
Trump claims that when Biden was Vice President, he pressured Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor, who had investigated the gas company Burisma. Biden’s son, was a director of the company. But there is no evidence that Biden’s pressure was an effort to protect his son. Rather, a number of U.S. and foreign officials had called for the firing of the prosecutor because of concerns that not enough was being done to root out corruption.
The complexities of the actions in Ukraine have forced media outlets to comb through reports over the past five years. The Washington Post published a timeline of the Ukrainian situation.
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