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Newly released whistleblower complaint sheds light on Trump scandal

The scandal that may lead to Trump's impeachment started with a whistleblower complaint. Now that complaint is available to the public.
Morning breaks over the White House and the offices of the West Wing (R) in Washington January 20, 2015. (Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Morning breaks over the White House and the offices of the West Wing (R) in Washington January 20, 2015.

It all started with a whistleblower from within the U.S. intelligence community. This person filed a complaint about alleged presidential wrongdoing with his/her inspector general, going by the book.

And now that previously classified complaint is available -- with minimal redactions -- for everyone to read.

A whistleblower's complaint about President Donald Trump, made public on Thursday, says White House officials were so concerned about what the president said in a July call with Ukraine's new leader that they intervened to "lock down" the record of the phone call.The whistleblower, whose name has not been released, says he lodged the formal complaint because he believed that Trump was "using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country" in the 2020 election. In the call, Trump discussed having the Ukrainian president help investigate the Biden family's business dealings.

The nine-page complaint is available online here (pdf), while the seven-page letter from Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson is available here (pdf).

Near the very beginning of the whistleblower's complaint, note that it accuses Donald Trump of pressuring "a foreign country to investigate one of the president's main domestic political rivals." The whistleblower, whose identity is still unknown to the public, added that Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal attorney, is "a central figure" in the political scheme, before describing Attorney General Barr, the nation's chief law-enforcement official, as someone who "appears to be involved as well."

* The complaint says, “I learned from multiple U.S. Officials that senior White House officials had intervened to 'lock down' all the records of the phone call [between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky], especially the word-for-word transcript of the call that was produced -- as is customary -- by the White House Situation Room." He/she added that White House lawyers "directed" that a transcript of the call be removed from the computer system.

It suggests that White House officials not only realized that Trump went too far, but also that the White House took steps to cover up his abuse.

* White House officials told the whistleblower after the call that "they had witnessed the President abuse his office for personal gain."

* "Starting in mid-May, I heard from multiple U.S. officials that they were deeply concerned by what they viewed as Mr. Giuliani's circumvention of national security decisionmaking processes to engage with Ukrainian officials and relay messages back and forth."

* Multiple U.S. officials told the whistleblower that Ukrainian leaders were "led to believe" that a meeting between Trump and Zelensky would depend on whether the Ukrainian president "showed willingness to 'play ball.'"

* The complaint says there were other instances in which White House officials hid transcripts of Trump phone calls "for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive -- rather than national security sensitive -- information."

* Toward the end of the complaint, the whistleblower added that Trump "instructed" Vice President Pence in May to cancel a scheduled trip to Ukraine. Trump wanted to delay top-level meetings until he saw how Zelensky "chose to act."

Between yesterday's revelations and today's, we're seeing a one-two punch that significantly increases the odds that the American president will be impeached.

Meanwhile, acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph McGuire, who received the whistleblower complaint but did not originally share it with lawmakers as required by law, is testifying before the House Intelligence Committee right now.