The White House Thursday released a redacted version of the whistleblower complaint involving US president Donald Trump in an impeachment inquiry.
The nine-page document dated 12 August, 2019, which was released ahead of testimony to House investigators from acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire, lists concerns regarding the misuse of power of his office by the US president to “solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 US election”. Maguire said that this whistleblower complaint "touched on such complicated and sensitive issues" and called the matter unprecedented.
The complaint also mentions details about Trump’s 25 July call with Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump asked his counterpart to investigate political rival Joe Biden and his family. The White House released a rough transcript of that call on Wednesday.
Citing multiple US officials, the letter also claims that "senior White House officials has intervened to 'lock down' all records of the phone call, especially the official word-for-word transcript of the call that was produced".
"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 for coordination, finalisation, and distribution to Cabinet-level officials," the letter said.
The whistleblower said that White House officials had raised concerns that the rough transcript was moved to a separate computer system that is "reserved for codeword-level intelligence information."
In another section in the letter, the complainant wrote about efforts made to suppress records related to the phone call between Trump and Zelensky. The complaint also implicates the US president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani as a "central figure" in the effort and says that Attorney General William Barr "appears to be involved as well”.
The complaint says that Giuliani traveled to Madrid one week after the call to meet with one of Zelenskiy's advisers in a follow-up to the telephone conversation between the two leaders.
The whistleblower said that White House officials were “deeply disturbed” by what had transpired in the phone call between Trump and the Ukrainian president.
“They told me 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 in the complaint.
The letter also talks about the circumstances that led up to the 25 July call, including citations of articles in an online publication called The Hill which claim that they possessed evidence that Ukranian officials had interfered in the 2016 US Presidential election (in favour of Hillary Clinton) and that the US embassy in Kyiv had blocked Ukrainian prosecutors from travelling to Washington to present “evidence” regarding the interference in polls.
THE DEMOCRATS ARE TRYING TO DESTROY THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AND ALL THAT IT STANDS FOR. STICK TOGETHER, PLAY THEIR GAME, AND FIGHT HARD REPUBLICANS. OUR COUNTRY IS AT STAKE!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2019
In a statement on Thursday, the White House had said that the release of the complaint changed nothing, calling it a “collection of third-hand accounts of events and cobbled-together press clippings, all of which shows nothing improper”.
The complaint comes a day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the chamber would start impeachment proceedings, alleging a "betrayal of his oath of office”, national security and integrity of elections by Trump. The complaint has three main sections: the 25 July Presidential phone call, efforts to restrict access to records related to the call and ongoing concerns. The House and Senate intelligence committees have invited the whistleblower to testify, but it remains to be seen if the whistleblower will appear to testify.
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Updated Date: Sep 26, 2019 21:06:37 IST