‘UNPRECEDENTED’: Details of whistleblower’s Trump complaint aired
Thursday - 26/09/2019 12:11
Senior White House officials tried to cover up details of US President Donald Trump’s Ukraine call in a move that left colleagues “deeply disturbed”, according to the complaint.
A secret whistleblower complaint at the centre of an impeachment inquiry alleges that President Donald Trump abused the power of his office to “solicit interference from a foreign country” in next year’s US election.
Senior White House officials tried to “lock down” the information, the complaint says, leaving other White House officials “deeply disturbed” by their colleagues’ efforts to cover it up.
The whistleblower said at least 12 US officials had shared “credible” accounts that were “consistent with one another.”
“In the course of my official duties, I have received information from multiple US 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 US election,” the unidentified whistleblower wrote in the August 12 complaint.
“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.”
Later in the document the whistleblower said, “The White House officials who told me this information were deeply disturbed by what had transpired in the phone call … because of the likelihood … that they had witnessed the president abuse his office for personal gain.”
The nine-page complaint — which the administration initially withheld from Congress for weeks — was declassified and released on Thursday with several redactions by the House Intelligence Committee, ahead of testimony to House investigators from Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence.
The whistleblower and was not a direct witness to most of what the complaint goes on to describe — including Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Mr Trump prodded Mr Zelenskiy to investigate Democratic political rival Joe Biden. The White House released a rough transcript of that call on Wednesday.
“In the days following the phone call, I learned from multiple US officials that senior White House officials had intervened to ‘lock down’ all the 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,” the complaint says.
The anonymous whistleblower says that despite him or her not being present for the call, multiple White House officials shared consistent details about it.
Those officials told the whistleblower that “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 complaint said.
In a section titled “Efforts to restrict access to records related to the call,” the whistleblower alleges that actions undertaken by senior White House officials to “lock down” information about the call indicates that they “understood the gravity of what had transpired.”
In a particularly damning claim, the whistleblower writes:
“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.
“The transcript was loaded into a separate electronic system that is otherwise used to store and handle classified information of an especially sensitive nature.”
TRUMP HITS BACK
Mr Trump immediately tweeted, “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.”
The tweet was in all capital letters.
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!