Key takeaways from the Trump-Ukraine whistleblower complaint

by | Sep 26, 2019 | Politics, Trump Impeachment

On Thursday, the Democratic-led House Intelligence Committee released the Trump-Ukraine whistleblower complaint, a classified document filed last month by a national intelligence official who sounded the alarm on what Democrats claim as a violation of the Constitution and grave national security concern by the president in his interactions with Ukraine.

The now-declassified document relates to a July phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The document, as well as a rough transcript of the call released by the White House on Wednesday, shows that Trump asked the newly elected Ukrainian leader to investigate a domestic opponent (Joe Biden).

Here are some takeaways from the whistleblower.

This is bigger than a phone call

The first paragraph of the document lays out why the whistleblower filed the complaint, citing the problematic phone call and “other things” to solicit interference in the 2020 elections:

In the course of my official duties, 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. This interference includes, among other things, pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the President’s main domestic political rivals. The President’s personal lawyer, Mr. Rudolph Giuliani, is a central figure in this effort. Attorney General Barr appears to be involved as well.

The White House tried to restrict records and information about the call

According to the whistleblower, the electronic transcript of the call was loaded into a separate, highly classified computer system where it would be unavailable for distribution to Cabinet-level officials:

White House officials told me that they were ‘directed’ by White House lawyers to remove the electronic transcript from the computer system in which such transcripts are typically stored … One White House official described this act as an abuse of this electronic system because the call did not contain anything remotely sensitive from a national security perspective.

Later in the document, the whistleblower said White House officials told them it was “not the first time” the Trump administration stored transcripts in the classified computer system “for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive– rather than national security sensitive– information.”

Who the whistleblower is is still a mystery

Neither the House Intelligence Committee nor Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire knows who the whistleblower is. Some reports have suggested the whistleblower is willing to testify to Congress, under certain conditions.

Photo: Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images | + posts

Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at

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