WASHINGTON — The whistleblower complaint on President Donald Trump and Ukraine was released Thursday morning, accusing the President of using his power “to solicit interference from a foreign country” in the 2020 election.
White House officials, the whistleblower said, were “deeply disturbed” by Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The officials attempted to “lock down” all records of the phone call, especially the word-for-word transcript of the call that was produced by the White House, the complaint states.
The complaint has been at the center of a controversy that has spurred Democrats to launch a formal impeachment inquiry. The White House on Wednesday also released a rough transcript of the July 25 call that shows Trump repeatedly pressed Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
There is no known evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden.
White House lawyers asked to remove transcript
The complaint notes White House lawyers were “already in discussion” 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.”
White House lawyers also directed officials to remove the transcript of the call from a computer system that stores them for Cabinet-level officials and instead put the transcript in a system for especially sensitive information, the whistleblower alleges.
This move concerned some officials, who shared their worries internally that this was an “abuse of the system.”
“According to White House officials I spoke with, this was ‘not the first time’ under this Administration that a Presidential transcript was placed into this codeword-level system solely for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive — rather than national security sensitive — information.”
The whistleblower does not provide further details of these allegations.
Rudy Giuliani’s role worried State Dept officials
US officials were concerned, the whistleblower said, with Trump’s private lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s contact with Ukraine. The whistleblower alleges the US officials believed Giuliani was a conduit for messages between the President and officials in Kyiv.
Two US State Department officials had spoken with Giuliani “in an attempt to ‘contain the damage’ to US national security,” the whistleblower writes.
The State Department officials also met with Ukrainian leaders to understand and respond to differing messages they were receiving from US officials versus Giuliani, the whistleblower wrote.
The complaint also describes how on the day after the Trump’s call with the Ukraine leader, State officials met with Ukrainian political figures and provided advice “about how to ‘navigate’ the demands that the President had made of” Zelensky.
Whistleblower confused by Trump’s CrowdStrike interest
The whistleblower expresses confusion about Trump’s references to CrowdStrike during his calls with Zelensky. The Democratic National Committee hired CrowdStrike in 2016 to investigate hacks to its computers, which were later blamed on the Russian government.
In the call, Trump mentioned the US cybersecurity firm and said, “the server, they say Ukraine has it.” Trump also encouraged Zelensky to “find out what happened” with the server.
“I do not know why the President associates these servers with Ukraine,” the whistleblower wrote in a footnote. The whistleblower added that Trump had previously connected the DNC server to Ukraine in television interviews.
Trump’s interest in CrowdStrike and the DNC server, more than three years after the hacks, is part of a larger effort to undermine the notion that Russia meddled in the 2016 election to help him win. He has repeatedly rejected the assessment from CrowdStrike, which was later confirmed by US intelligence agencies, that Russia was behind the DNC hacks and leaks.