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