Whistleblower Complaint Reveals Months Long Effort To Push Ukraine To Investigate Biden

The Acting Director of National Intelligence has released the complaint filed by an intelligence community whistleblower that has set off allegations that the President sought foreign aid in undermining a political opponent.

Prior to the testimony later today by the Acting Director of National Intelligence in public and the Inspector General for the intelligence community before the House Intelligence Committee, the Office of the Acting DNI has released the complaint filed by the whistleblower and the corresponding report on that complaint sent by the Inspector General to the Acting DNI:

The whistleblower complaint at the heart of the burgeoning controversy over President Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president claims not only that the president misused his office for personal gain and endangered national security but that unidentified White House officials tried to hide that conduct.

“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,” the whistleblower wrote in the complaint dated Aug. 12. The House Intelligence Committee released the document Thursday morning.

“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 W. Giuliani, is a central figure in this effort. Attorney General (William P.) Barr appears to be involved as well,” the complaint states.

“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,” the whistleblower wrote in the complaint dated Aug. 12. The House Intelligence Committee released the document Thursday morning.

“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 W. Giuliani, is a central figure in this effort. Attorney General (William P.) Barr appears to be involved as well,” the complaint states.

In that phone call, Trump pressed President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden, one of his chief political rivals, and Biden’s son Hunter — offering to enlist Barr’s help in that effort while dangling a possible visit to the White House, according to a rough transcript of the call released by the White House on Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for Barr has said that he did not know about the phone call until the whistleblower issue was raised, and that he had not spoken with Trump about assisting Ukraine with an investigation of Biden or his son.

The unidentified intelligence official was so alarmed by the conversation, and related interactions between Giuliani and Ukrainian officials, that they filed a whistleblower complaint to the inspector general for the U.S. intelligence agencies.

“I am also concerned that these actions pose risks to U.S. national security and undermine the U.S. government’s efforts to deter and counter foreign interference in U.S. elections,” the person wrote in a seven-page letter to the chairmen of the Senate and House Intelligence committees.

The whistleblower goes on to say that they were told by unidentified White House officials that they had been directed by White House lawyers “to remove the electronic transcript from the computer system in which such transcripts are typically stored.”

The complaint also describes a series of alleged actions by Giuliani that seemed designed to pressure the Ukraine government to go after Joe Biden — a chief political rival to the president who is currently seeking the Democratic nomination to run against Trump in 2020.

The whistleblower said that they learned from other U.S. officials that Giuliani’s visit to Madrid on Aug. 2 to meet with a Zelensky aide was “a direct followup” to Trump’s July 25 call to the Ukrainian president and request for an investigation of the Bidens. Giuliani also reached out to “a variety of other Zelenskyy advisers, including Chief of Staff Andriy Bohdan and Acting Chairman of the Security Service of Ukraine Ivan Bakanov,” according to the complaint.

More from The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — President Trump used the power of his office to try to get Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election to investigate a political rival “for personal gain,” according to an explosive whistle-blower complaint released on Thursday after days of damning revelations about Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

Attorney General William P. Barr and the president’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani were central to the effort, the complaint said.

In addition, the complaint says that whistle-blower, an unidentified intelligence officer, learned from multiple American officials that “senior White House officials had intervened to ‘lock down’ all 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.”

“This set of actions underscored to me that White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call,” the complaint said.

The whistle-blower’s complaint was based on accounts from multiple White House officials who were “deeply disturbed” by what they heard on the call, the complaint said.

“They told me that 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 whistle-blower wrote in the complaint.

The complainant asserted that multiple officials said a subsequent meeting or phone call between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky would depend on whether the Ukrainian president was willing to “play ball” on investigating former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son, Hunter Biden, and other matters.

The whistle-blower said the White House officials who relayed the details of the call to the whistle-blower were “deeply disturbed.”

To a large degree, the whistleblower’s complaint corroborates the information that was in the summary of the July 25th phone call between President Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky. That summary, of course, showed the President of the United States presenting his counterpart in Kyiv with what is clearly an implicit quid pro quo connecting the provision of current and future aid to Ukraine to President Zelensky’s agreement to take steps to investigate a matter involving Hunter Biden, the son of the former Vice-President and current Presidential candidate Joe Biden, as well as allegations, which have been debunked, that Vice-President Biden used his alleged influence to have investigations of that company shut down. Those efforts primarily took place during the July 25th phone call at issue, but also appear to have begun as early as April shortly after Zelensky was elected and continued throughout the summer thanks in large part to visits to Ukraine by Rudy Giuliani, one of the President’s personal attorneys whose mission was apparently to put pressure on Ukrainian authorities regarding the Biden case.

Outside of the summary of the July 25th phone call the complaint is filled with detailed information that appears to indicate that this whistleblower is someone of fairly high rank within the Intelligence Community rather than some mid-level bureaucrat. One of the more telling things in this regard is the fact that the whistleblower basis his complaint both on that phone call and on contacts that Rudy Giuliani had with officials in Ukraine. Additionally, the complaint speaks to actings undertaken by some White House officials to hide the summary of this call from scrutiny by storing it on a high-security computer system unlike the summary of other similar calls with world leaders. This implies to me at least that the whistleblower is someone to whom some of these people would come to report what they considered unusual activity in connection with the summary. It is also worth noting that this action, assuming it actually happened, reveals some level of consciousness on the part of White House officials that what Trump had discussed with Zelensky was somehow improper.

In any case, the release of this complaint is another shoe dropping against this President that, if anything, makes him look even worse than the summary of the phone call did. Based on this complaint, it seems clear that the President of the United States engaged in an effort to essentially blackmail the newly-elected and politically inexperienced leader of a foreign country that is, thanks to a war waging in the eastern half of his country that was started by Russia, facing an existential crisis for his country that makes him particularly reliant on the United States for aid. That blackmail essentially was that aid would be withheld unless President Zelensky agreed to the “request” to reopen an investigation in the hope that it could benefit the President Trump’s re-election in 2020. The complaint also alleges that White House officials, including lawyers, have been routinely filing records of this and other Presidential calls on this high-security computer systems to hide them essentially from the beginning of Trump’s Presidency. Indeed, as one of our commentators below notes, the various classification marks on the summary of the call released yesterday corroborate the allegation in the complaint about the extent to which White House officials went to “hide” that summary and, perhaps, others. If this is true, then it is yet another piece of evidence in favor of this President’s impeachment. Congress needs to move forward on this matter expeditiously.

Embedded below are (1) the whistleblower complaint and (2) the report of the Inspector General to the Acting Director of National Intelligence regarding the complaint:

First, the complaint:

Whistleblower Complaint by Doug Mataconis on Scribd

And second, the report:

Whistleblower Report by Doug Mataconis on Scribd

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Impeachment, Intelligence, National Security, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Joe says:

    Please, please, please let the whistle blower be Anonymous!

    For good or ill, most of what the whistle blower reports is second hand to the whistle blower. While that is a strike at the credibility of the complaint, it is also an opportunity to find a lot of corroboration in the ranks.

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  2. Andy says:

    I noticed something interesting in the call summary released yesterday that now has an explanation.

    Basically, the call summary is misclassified and the whistleblower’s allegation gives a pretty good reason why.

    The header classification for the call summary is SECRET//ORCON/NOFORN.

    For the uninitiated, SECRET is the actual classification level of the information and ORCON and NOFORN are dissemination restrictions. NOFORN means the information can’t be released to foreign governments, nationals, non-US citizens, etc – this is completely normal for almost all diplomatic information, it’s actually rare to see diplomatic information without the NOFORN restriction. ORCON means “originator controlled.” That means the document and information can only be disseminated with the originator’s approval, typically to an identified set of recipients. Again, ORCON is pretty common and I saw plenty of it in diplomatic and, especially, intelligence-related products during my previous career.

    But the problem is that nothing in the document itself is marked ORCON. The header classification is supposed to represent the highest classification for that document based on the actual content. All the paragraphs have (S/NF) portion markings (shorthand for SECRET//NOFORN) but none of the paragraph markings have ORCON, which would be abbreviated OC. (S/OC/NF) would be the paragraph marking if that were the case. So the top-line header classification should be SECRET//NOFORN based on the content.

    Additionally, the document is missing POC information that comes with all ORCON materials – a POC is required so that recipients can request copies or dissemination of ORCON material beyond the designated recipients. It’s supposed to include the name or agency position of the contact and a current telephone number. Without that information, there’s no easy way for someone to make such a request. And the call summary doesn’t include that information.

    So to me, it looks like this document wasn’t originally ORCON and that restriction was slapped on later to limit its dissemination. This would be consistent with the whistleblower’s allegation that it was moved to a higher-level security system and that administration officials sought to limit its dissemination after the fact. It’s not at all unusual for ORCON material to be stored on a separate system to avoid accidental dissemination which would explain why it was moved to a more secure system.

    Bottom line is that the transcript itself is consistent with the whistleblower’s allegation that the WH attempted to restrict access to the records about the call.

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  3. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    The striking thing about this entire episode is that the POTUS broke the law, and posed a nat’l security risk, in pursuit of looney-bin conspiracy theories.
    CrowdStrike is a nut job theory that the Intelligence Community is wrong about who hacked the DNC servers, and it was not Russia.
    Somewhat related…Trump thinks some rich guy in Ukraine has physical possession of Clinton’s email server.
    And the Biden story has been thoroughly investigated and thoroughly debunked.
    In short, Trump doesn’t really know what the fuq he is talking about…he belongs in the looney bin, not in charge of nukes…and hence made an insane ask of the Ukrainian President.

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  4. @Andy:

    Bottom line is that the transcript itself is consistent with the whistleblower’s allegation that the WH attempted to restrict access to the records about the call.

    Thanks for running through that. Not all of us are familiar with the various levels of classification, or what those initials and acronyms mean. I certainly am not. What is even more significant though is the fact that the complaint states that White House officials have been doing this with respect to other records of other phone calls (and perhaps other material). Making this yet another matter worthy of investigation by Congress.

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  5. Teve says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: але її електронні листи?

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  6. mattbernius says:

    @Andy:

    Bottom line is that the transcript itself is consistent with the whistleblower’s allegation that the WH attempted to restrict access to the records about the call.

    And this is why the arguement that “the whistleblower wasn’t directly present and this is all gossip and therefore should be ignored” doesn’t work.

    Honestly, the best option for Trump supporters at this point isn’t to go down the “gossip” route or try and provide that there was only one “favor” requested in the conversation. They should just sack up and admit that (1) the President made the request, (2) he did ask it as a “favor” implying a quid pro quo, and (3) none of that matters because he didn’t do anything wrong.

    At least have the guts to say you don’t think this was inappropriate behavior and not worthy of impeachment.

    Because trying to deny the facts is going to get increasingly difficult as more of them keep coming out.

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  7. Steve V says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Did you see the Murray Waas article about the Crowdstrike piece? He says he has a source saying that that is part of a larger effort to dig up (or manufacture more likely) evidence pertaining to the 2016 election that would justify pardoning Paul Manafort. I would not dismiss this stuff as just “looney bin” material. This makes me want to know a lot more about the so-called “Ukraine peace plan” that was being discussed so much back in 2017 or so. It looks like they came upon the Biden thing later and decided to run with it.

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  8. Teve says:

    @mattbernius: Nut Up or Shut Up.

    BRB gotta go spray paint a 3 on the side of my Fiesta.

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  9. DrDaveT says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Interesting. My take on the phone call transcript was that Trump was openly inviting the Ukrainian government to manufacture evidence against Biden. Trump doesn’t do truth.

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  10. gVOR08 says:

    @DrDaveT: That.

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  11. Andy says:

    @mattbernius:

    And this is why the arguement that “the whistleblower wasn’t directly present and this is all gossip and therefore should be ignored” doesn’t work.

    The fact that many of the whistleblower allegations are from second-hand source can’t be waved away though. I’ve had a hand in a couple of IG investigations during my time in government and second-hand allegations aren’t given much credence unless they can be verified. For obvious reasons.

    Such allegations are the beginning of a line of inquiry, not the end. They can’t be dismissed, but neither are they definitive proof.

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  12. wr says:

    @Andy: Thanks, that’s really interesting.

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  13. Joe says:

    Such allegations are the beginning of a line of inquiry, not the end. They can’t be dismissed, but neither are they definitive proof.

    I agree, Andy, which is why I find it intriguing all the corroborating sources that have either been alluded to or named. The two ambassadors may have interesting stories, particularly if they were outside of Trump’s efforts and actually trying to interpret actual government positions.

    I think this interesting story points out why Trump/Giuliani’s corruption spinning stories about current Ukraine are affirmatively damaging to American foreign policy, a topic that neither could really give a sh-t about.

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  14. drj says:

    The complaint also alleges that White House officials, including lawyers, have been routinely filing records of this and other Presidential calls on this high-security computer systems to hide them essentially from the beginning of Trump’s Presidency.

    Misclassifying information in order to escape legitimate oversight must be illegal. IANAL, but it just has to be, hasn’t it?

    If so, this is the outline of a criminal conspiracy right in the White House – in ADDITION to the obvious crimes committed by Trump himself in the call with Zelensky.

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  15. Kathy says:

    The only honest argument Republicans and Trump’s supporters can now make is: Who said Democrats could investigate a Republican’s crimes anyway?

    They could also openly say the US is a Republican country, and Democrats are, at best, to be regarded as second class citizens.

    I think they will make that argument explicit any day now.

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  16. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy:

    They could also openly say the US is a Republican country, and Democrats are, at best, to be regarded as second class citizens.

    “It’s a Republic, not a Democracy.“

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  17. drj says:

    @Kathy:

    They could also openly say the US is a Republican country, and Democrats are, at best, to be regarded as second class citizens.

    “Coastal elites,” “real Americans,” “center-right nation.”

    They already have.

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  18. mattbernius says:

    @Andy:

    Such allegations are the beginning of a line of inquiry, not the end. They can’t be dismissed, but neither are they definitive proof.

    Andy, I completely agree and I should have been more clear about that.

    The issue is the President’s defenders are saying (including more or less in the committee hearing today) that the *inquiry* should never have happened because of the second hand accounts. That’s what I was taking issue with.

    Definitely agree that we cannot take anything in the complain as anything other than a claim that needs to be investigated.

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  19. Teve says:

    Wait till you hear what Trump said today about the whistleblower. Holy shitballs.

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  20. Kathy says:

    @Teve:

    I don’t really pay attention to what Dennison says. As I noted elsewhere, he has three modes of communication: boast, threaten, and complain. In addition, much of what he includes in threats, boasts, and complaints is false, wrong, or irrelevant.

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  21. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Teve:
    Just saw that…

    POTUS told staff that he wants to know who provided info to a whistle-blower about his call with the president of Ukraine, saying that whoever did so was “close to a spy” and that “in the old days,” spies were dealt with differently

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  22. Chip Daniels says:

    @drj:

    It is an open and obvious abuse of the public trust, using the power of the office and government for personal gain.

    When we the people authorize an individual to a position of power, we trust that they use it for the good of the people and the nation, not to further their own political goals.

    This is why any one of these acts are impeachable.

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  23. Scott F. says:

    @Kathy:

    They could also openly say the US is a Republican country, and Democrats are, at best, to be regarded as second class citizens.

    Trump has already been this explicit. Witness his tweets of the last 24 hours. He is on the record saying that investigating him is bad for the entire country and that impeachment is just the Democrats trying to destroy ALL Republicans, so the GOP must unite behind him to fight back.

    Neither of these points of attack are new and both are opening claiming that Trump = Republicans = Country.

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  24. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    He’s gonna get away with it, again.

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  25. Scott F. says:

    @Scott F.:
    I’d just add that it’s not just Trump saying this. Kevin McCarthy has already claimed that impeachment is just the Democrats trying to overturn the results of the last election. Lindsey Graham is calling Democrats insane for impeaching Trump over a phone call.

    Both Trump and the GOP truly are that egomaniacal.

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  26. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    He’s gonna get away with it, again.

    Boy howdy, am I familiar with this feeling. I think the best shot is to understand that Trump is a sprinter. All his energy is up front. He can hit hard, but he can’t stay in the game when he’s hit back, day after day.

    Remember the shutdown? He can’t go the distance. I think that’s how this has to work. Just keep the pressure on him, day after day. I think that’s the best shot. I don’t know whether it will work or not, though.

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  27. Jen says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Depressingly, I think you are likely right.

    This is all so simple, and yet people STILL don’t understand it.

    1) It is against the law for any candidate for federal office to request campaign help from a foreign government, individual or entity.

    2) Trump clearly and specifically asked the president of a foreign country to initiate/reopen an investigation into a matter that had already been investigated and closed with no wrongdoing.

    3) He made this request indicating it would be a “favor,” after discussing the holdup of military aid.

    And that’s just the phone call.

    We also have:

    – The president directing members of his administration to lie to members of Congress when they asked why the military aid was being delayed (“tell them it’s stuck in an interagency process” when he knew full well that was a lie)

    – The president (apparently/allegedly) shielding other such phone calls with political ramifications on a server that was designated for content that dealt with national security (hey, look, Trump’s got a server problem now too), which is almost certainly inappropriate if not illegal

    – The president has his personal lawyer running around the globe, mucking up foreign policy by making statements and claims that ran counter to official channels, which again is inappropriate if not illegal (or just plain stupid, take your pick).

    And YET, here we are, the media is dishing out all of their “but Republicans say…” nonsense.

    Good grief.

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  28. Jax says:

    @Jen: That’s probably the best synopsis I’ve seen yet.

    And he STILL might get away with it.

    ReplyReply

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