Whistleblower’s Complaint Has Been Corroborated

The evidence piles up.

It’s been roughly two weeks since we learned about President Trump’s July phone call with President Zelensky of Ukraine and the reports of an intelligence community whistleblower who chose to spoke out about learning about the contents of that call and other information through their work at the White House. As The Washington Post points out, the evidence supporting the contents of that complaint has only continued to mount in the intervening time even as the Administration and its supporters have tried to claim otherwise:

Since the revelation of an explosive whistleblower complaint that sparked an impeachment crisis for President Trump, he and his Republican allies have coalesced around a central defense: The document was based on secondhand information, mere hearsay riddled with inaccuracies.

But over the past two weeks, documents, firsthand witness accounts and even statements by Trump himself have emerged that bolster the facts outlined in the extraordinary abuse-of-
power complaint.

The description of a July 25 phone call between Trump and the president of Ukraine, which formed the heart of the complaint and was still secret at the time the claim was filed in mid-August, matches a rough transcript of the call that the White House released a day before the complaint was made public.

The whistleblower’s assertion that records related to the phone call were transferred to a separate electronic system intended for highly classified material has since been confirmed by White House officials.

And the whistleblower’s narrative of the events that led up to the call — including a shadow campaign undertaken by Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani and the attempts of State Department officials to navigate his activities— have been largely confirmed by the text messages of three diplomats released Friday, as well as Giuliani himself in media interviews.

Independent evidence now supports the central elements laid out in the seven-page document. Even if they disregarded the complaint, legal experts said, lawmakers have obtained dramatic testimony and documents that provide ammunition for the whistleblower’s core assertion: that the president of the United States used “the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.”

“Everything we’ve found to date validates the information. . . . It’s brilliantly effective. It really does function almost as a one-stop-shop, investigative road map,” said Harry P. Litman, a former U.S. attorney in Pennsylvania who has represented other government whistleblowers.

(…)

[S]pecific details the whistleblower provided about Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky can be found in the rough transcript of the conversation released by the White House.

Among them: that Trump pressured Zelensky to investigate former vice president Biden and his son, and that the only specific instance of allegedcorruption that Trump referenced on the call was the one pertaining to Biden.

The whistleblower also accurately described howTrump had asked the Ukrainians to pursueallegations that Russian interference in the 2016 election originated in Ukraine and to “turn over servers used by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and examined by the U.S. cyber security firm CrowdStrike.”

According to the White House, Trump told Zelensky, “I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say CrowdStrike . . .,” adding, “The server, they say Ukraine has it.”

The whistleblower also said thatTrump had explicitly asked the Ukrainians to meet or speak with Giuliani and Attorney General William P. Barr on these matters, referring to them “multiple times in tandem.”
“I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call and I am also going to have Attorney General Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it,” Trump told Zelensky, according to the White House readout. “I’m sure you will figure it out.”

Mark Zaid, a lawyer for the whistleblower, said the complaint itself noted that it was based both on the whistleblower’s personal knowledge and on information gathered from other officials.

Despite some Republican claims to the contrary, the law that protects government officials who step forward with knowledge of wrongdoing has never required that their information be firsthand, he said.

“It’s always gratifying when the veracity of a client’s concerns are proven to be true,” Zaid said. “It is obviously disappointing at times to see that something improper might have happened in the government, but there’s a sense of pride in seeing someone stand up for truth and integrity and in seeing the process work to address it.”

In the complaint, the whistleblower described other internal government deliberations that were not public at the time the document was filed.

For instance, he wrote that he had learned from other officials that Trump instructed Vice President Pence not to attend Zelensky’s inauguration in May. Current and former U.S. officials confirmed the president’s directive to The Post this past week.

In addition, the whistleblower assertedthat in the weeks before Trump and Zelensky spoke, the Ukrainians were told that a phone call or meeting with the U.S. president — a highly sought-after mark of respect for the newly elected Ukrainian president — would depend on whether Zelensky was willing to “play ball” with Giuliani. And the whistleblower said he had learned that Giuliani was engaging with Ukrainian officials and relaying messages between Trump and Kiev.

Giuliani has acknowledged that he conveyed Trump’s desire for Ukraine to investigate Biden to Ukrainian officials close to Zelensky

“Your country owes it to us and to your country to find out what really happened,” Giuliani told a top aide to the Ukrainian president, according to an interview he gave The Post last month.

In addition to the corroboration noted above, there was more concrete evidence released at the end of the week that adds to what we already knew. First of all, of course, there was the President himself standing on the South Lawn of the White House and stating for television cameras what he had previously only stated privately, and asking not only Ukraine but also China to open investigations into former Vice-President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Then, in response to document requests from Congress, the Administration released a treasure trove of text messages between diplomats and other officials making clear the extent to which American officials were pressuring Kvyv to comply with the President’s political vendetta. Finally, we have the news that there is apparently a second person out there considering coming forward as a whistleblower, a person who is already a witness with respect to the complaints of the original complaint but who apparently also has additional information about what happened vis a vis Ukraine and the efforts to pressure the Zelensky Administration to investigate the Bidens. ABC News is reporting this morning that this second whistleblower is being represented by the same law firm representing the first whistleblower

In the land of the Trump defenders, of course, we’re still stuck on the idea that the whistleblower’s complaint was based on secondhand information and that, somehow mysteriously, the rules regarding whistleblower complaints were changed in the weeks before the complaint was filed to drop a requirement that such complaints be based on first-hand knowledge. In the first respect, it is simply not true that previous whistleblower rules barred whistleblowers from basing their complaint on so-called “hearsay” or second-hand knowledge, To the extent there was a change, it was a simple change in the form used to report the claims that asked whistleblowers to differentiate when they were basing their complaint on first-hand and second-hand knowledge. There was no rule against second-hand knowledge per se. Second, the whistleblower’s complaint in this particular case made clear from the start that it was based both on first and second-hand knowledge. Additionally, it is worth noting that the Inspector General to whom the complaint was turned over was able to verify much of the second-hand knowledge through independent interviews before turning over his report to the Acting Director of National Intelligence.

What all this means, of course, is that the evidence available to the House Intelligence Committee, which for practical purposes is currently taking the lead in the underlying impeachment investigation, is expanding significantly and that the evidence against the President is continuing to mount. By some measures, of course, one could argue that the House has all the evidence it needs to proceed forward with the drafting and approval of Articles of Impeachment against the President, something that has only happened two other times in American history, and would have happened a third time had Richard Nixon not resigned before the House of Representatives could vote.

Notwithstanding the fact that the case is less than a month old, I think it’s fair to say that this is the most serious case of impeachment since the allegations against Nixon. It’s certainly more serious than the charges against President Andrew Johnson, which were largely based on his refusal to comply with with what was most likely an unconstitutional law regard the appointment and removal of Cabinet officials and the charges against President Clinton, with of course revolved around perjury committed by the President when asked about an extramarital affair with a White House intern.

Obviously, Congress must continue to move forward and gather additional evidence but, as things stand, this is all headed toward a very foreseeable end in the House of Representatives. What happens in the Senate is up to them, and they will have to answer to history and to their constituents when they handle the matter however they chose.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Donald Trump, Impeachment, 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. DrDaveT says:

    In the land of the Trump defenders, of course, we’re still stuck on the idea that the whistleblower’s complaint was based on secondhand information and that, somehow mysteriously, the rules regarding whistleblower complaints were changed in the weeks before the complaint was filed to drop a requirement that such complaints be based on first-hand knowledge.

    It is, of course, deeply telling that the Trump administration’s response to any revelation about how they actually behave is to complain that we aren’t supposed to be able to know that, because reasons.

    At this point, the original whistleblower is irrelevant. The primary evidence that has been accumulated means that nobody need rely on the whistleblower’s testimony for anything; it no longer matters whether it was ‘credible’ or not. The whining about whether or not correct procedures were followed in kicking off the investigation that confirmed the crimes sounds for all the world like the villain’s last speech in an episode of Scooby Doo.

    14
  2. CSK says:

    Trending (2nd place) on Twitter: #PerryMadeMeDoIt.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    With Giuliani as the attorney of record and trump as the client and the 3 Stooges on the witness stand, this is one trial I look forward to.

  4. JKB says:

    We’ll know it’s serious when the House votes to impeach. Then there will need to be time to organize the trial and defense. Say start around the first of February. Meanwhile, Trump will be Trump and … oh, wait, AOC is already bored with impeachment.

    2
    28
  5. michael reynolds says:

    @JKB:
    And AOC has what to do with anything?

    21
  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Dean Gloster:

    I don’t know who needs to hear this, but back in the day, when I was a lawyer, over 30 years, I represented 2 high-functioning narcissistic sociopaths. So I know how the endgame is going to be played out: Bail out now, enablers. Quit. Cut your best deal. 1/x
    ………………….
    Narcissistic sociopaths don’t have loyalty. They don’t have empathy that extends beyond themselves and a narrowly-defined family. Even if you’re taking care of them, keeping them out of jail (literally) they won’t take care of you, even by paying their legal bills. Seriously. 4/x

    Narcissistic sociopaths are unable to straighten up and fly right, even when it’s in their self-interest. And they hang in there long after the rest of us would throw in the towel (from self interest or otherwise.) See, the rules don’t apply to them. Never have. 5/x
    ………………………………..
    So if you’re in the WH, State Department, etc., and you’ve been pulled into this fiasco, you might be going to jail. Sorry. That’s what happens when you facilitate crimes. I was lucky–I was an outside lawyer with a clear duty to act within the bounds of the law. 8/x
    …………………………
    So I’m sorry–but if you’re working for the President, you’re screwed. Depending on your involvement, it’s quite possible you’ll lose your job, your license, your career, or even your freedom. But the sooner you jump, the less damage. And: Your soul. Do the right thing. 10/x

    The endgame here is going to be almost inconceivably worse than anyone who hasn’t worked with narcissistic sociopaths expects. Now is the time to unstrap yourself from the “suicide bomber” President, as @TheRickWilson calls him. Good luck. Seriously. 11/x

    You probably think of yourself as a competent, nice person, with specific political beliefs that didn’t include fascism, authoritarianism, and letting Russians, Ukrainians, and other foreigners pick our leaders. Sorry. If you broke the law, you may be going down. 12/x

    I can speak from personal experience to the truth of what he says about narcissists.

    21
  7. Kathy says:

    It is too bad this won’t be heading to a court of law, because it’s as open-and-shut as it gets.

    7
    1
  8. Teve says:

    You know how you’d occasionally hear about a story where Mr. So-and-so serial killer murdered x dozen people, then they went to prison, where they had multiple girlfriends by mail and eventually got married in jail, and you’d wonder, what kind of airheaded lunatic woman would possibly marry that guy? That’s what I’m reminded of when I see a post by JKB/Guano/Jim/Paul. 😀 😀 😀

    17
  9. Teve says:

    Narcissistic sociopaths don’t have loyalty.

    Rick Perry to the white courtesy phone…

  10. Dick Factories says:

    @michael reynolds: She seems to loom much larger in the minds of Trump apologists than anyone else. It must be the Fox News effect. They’ve viewed the shockingly scandalous dancegate video many, many times… for, uh, research purposes. 😛

  11. Jen says:

    Yes, corroboration is the name of the game right now…

    Whistleblower’s attorney says team now representing ‘multiple’ officials

  12. Gustopher says:

    @CSK: Trump, so weak that Rick Perry makes him do things.

  13. liberal capitalist says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    With Giuliani as the attorney of record and trump as the client and the 3 Stooges on the witness stand, this is one trial I look forward to.

    Who threw those pies?

  14. CSK says:

    @Gustopher: I know. For such a tough guy, he’s remarkably easy to jerk around. I wonder if he knows what he said?

  15. CSK says:

    @Cris Ericson: You’re joking, right?

  16. DrDaveT says:

    @Cris Ericson:

    The second whistle blower is the same person as the first whistle blower, only using a puppet to do the talking.

    Do try to keep up. The President has confessed on (inter)national television, and the appropriate authorities have already uncovered overwhelming corroborative evidence. It no longer matters who the whistleblowers are, or whether they were justified, or how they were motivated, or what Adam Schiff said or didn’t say. The case is airtight; it’s just a question of how many Republican senators will put party over law.

    21
  17. Jen says:

    @Cris Ericson:

    I can’t tell if this is a parody account or not…

    1) The second whistle blower is an individual with more direct knowledge about some of the details put forth in the first whistle blower’s complaint, and was interviewed by the IG on the substance of fact in complaint #1. He/she had more to add, thus whistle blower complaint #2.
    2) You must broaden your focus in order to understand how three separate but equal branches of government end up providing checks and balances. You are correct that a plain read of the Constitution will not turn up a definitive statement that elaborates on this principle, nevertheless it is foundational to our democracy. I recommend looking into this further, you can start here, or review cases such as Marbury v. Madison, McCulloch v. Maryland, or for a more recent example U.S. v. Alvarez. In short, we have separation of powers and in such, the House does indeed provide checks on Executive authority in our system.
    3) It is standard practice to have multiple people listening in on the line during calls with foreign leaders, and the President was well aware of this. In fact, it was one of his initial attempts at a defense–he tweeted something along the lines of “would I have said anything wrong on such a populated phone call” or similar.

    12
  18. Scott F. says:

    @Kathy:
    I heard Colin Powell on Fareed Zakaria’s show this morning speaking of how he’d seen worse times in recent American history. Powell credited the “courage” of President Ford seen in pardoning Nixon for the sake of national unity. For me, I hope for “courage” from Trump’s successor so that indictments can be brought against this ex-President. His violations of foreign influence law and his subsequent obstruction of justice are just a sampling of his corruption, as his criminality preceded his election.

    You might get your trial in a court of law yet, as nothing would do more to discourage other Trump-type grifters from seeking high office.

  19. DrDaveT says:

    @Scott F.:

    Powell credited the “courage” of President Ford seen in pardoning Nixon for the sake of national unity.

    Yeah, and look how that turned out.

    That said, what Nixon did was peanuts compared to Trump. How you treated a parking ticket wisely in the past probably shouldn’t be informing how you deal with manslaughter today…

  20. CSK says:

    @Jen: Thank you very much. I couldn’t stand the thought of explaining all that, and you did it perfectly.

  21. Paul L. says:

    Now the talking point is criticizing/smearing the whistleblower by a private citizen is a violation of whistleblower federal law.

    But his phone call to Ukraine.

    Impeach Drumpf! YYYYYYYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGHHHHHHHH!

  22. Gustopher says:

    @Paul L.: Neither Trump nor his Attorney followed the whistleblower guidelines when publishing information that the President illegally requested a foreign power interfere in our elections, nor when he illegally made foreign aid contingent upon this interference.

    I don’t know what you are complaining about.

  23. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: I’d never thought about it quite that way. Good observation–and thanks.

  24. Paul L. says:

    @Gustopher:
    Trump did neither.
    Ukraine got the foreign aid without investigating Hunter Biden.

    But his phonecall with Ukraine.
    Should have sent it from his private email server instead.
    Impeach Drumpf! YYYYYYYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGHHHHHHHH

  25. Scott O says:

    I’m always stuck by how damn juvenile Republicans have become. Following their leader I guess.

  26. Jen says:

    @Cris Ericson:

    Do you genuinely not understand how case law and Supreme Court decisions work to provide a foundation for governance? Because it certainly seems like you do not understand it at all, and this really should have been something you grasped prior to leaving high school.

    We have three separate, and co-equal branches of government. They provide checks and balances against one another. The President is not a King, and the Congress has a number of checks on actions, including the right to impeach and the power of the purse.

    Grab a high school civics book tomorrow. Check a local library, or buy a used one on Amazon.

  27. Jax says:

    @Jen: I hear it’s not a parody account, and Crazy Cris is actually running for office…since like, forever.

  28. Teve says:
  29. Teve says:

    Donald J. Trump
    @realDonaldTrump

    Nancy Pelosi knew of all of the many Shifty Adam Schiff lies and massive frauds perpetrated upon Congress and the American people, in the form of a fraudulent speech knowingly delivered as a ruthless con, and the illegal meetings with a highly partisan “Whistleblower” & lawyer…
    10:27 PM · Oct 6, 2019

    Donald J. Trump
    @realDonaldTrump
    ·
    40m
    Replying to
    @realDonaldTrump
    ….This makes Nervous Nancy every bit as guilty as Liddle’ Adam Schiff for High Crimes and Misdemeanors, and even Treason. I guess that means that they, along with all of those that evilly “Colluded” with them, must all be immediately Impeached!

    Is he going to make it til Jan 20 2021?

  30. Jax says:

    @Teve: I am considerably concerned about what will happen between November 2020 and January 2021. At the rate he’s going, he might smear feces on the walls, or launch nukes at every state he did not win.

  31. Gustopher says:

    @Cris Ericson: Dude, your poetry doesn’t even rhyme.

  32. Gustopher says:

    @Jax: This is why I hope Joe Biden literally tears Trump’s throat out with his teeth during the debates.

    I’m also very curious about how our electoral system will respond to one candidate being dead and the other in jail. It’s the type of situation that undergrads taking beginners constitutional law debate while high, and why not throw them a bone?

  33. Jax says:

    @Gustopher: Not enough laughing emoji’s for that!!!
    @Teve: I don’t follow Trump on Twitter, I blocked him the day he was inaugurated. Did he seriously type “liddle’ Adam Schiff” the same damn way?! “Presidential auto correct” should be a thing. “Are you sure, Mr. President? The whole world is watching how badly you spell. ‘Many people say” that they can’t take someone seriously if they can’t spell.” 😉

  34. Jax says:

    So if Trump is in jail, are taxpayers on the hook for his “post-Presidency” Secret Service detail?

  35. DrDaveT says:

    @Teve:

    Nancy Pelosi knew of all of the many Shifty Adam Schiff lies and massive frauds perpetrated upon Congress and the American people, in the form of a fraudulent speech knowingly delivered as a ruthless con, and the illegal meetings with a highly partisan “Whistleblower” & lawyer…

    Pause a moment to reflect on how the nation would have reacted if any past President whatsoever had said or written or published a statement like this about a political opponent out of the blue. [Pause.] That’s how low a bar Trump has now normalized.

  36. DrDaveT says:

    As an aside, what is the legal standard for libel/slander if you are a public official? What would Trump have to say about Schiff for Schiff to have a good chance of winning a civil suit? Publicly accusing him of crimes (e.g. “fraudulent speech”, “illegal meetings”) would seem pretty close…

  37. Jen says:

    @DrDaveT: IANAL, but from my recollection the standard for public officials is pretty high. IIRC, you have to prove actual malice, which on the other hand might not be that hard considering it’s Trump–everything is malicious.

  38. grumpy realist says:

    @Cris Ericson: You don’t know much about law, do you?

    Look up the concept of “Common Law.” And then start reading some books on “Constitutional Law” and “Administrative Law.” Nice big fat in-depth books, at least a few inches thick. Each.

    That is, if you are really serious and in fact do want to learn something about how U.S. law would in fact work in this situation.

  39. al Ameda says:

    @JKB:

    AOC is already bored with impeachment.

    I think it’s fascinating that conservative are obsessed with AOC.

  40. al Ameda says:

    @Cris Ericson:

    Nanny Pelosi and Adam Schifft

    What happened, I see no reference to ‘Killery,’ why?

  41. DrDaveT says:

    @al Ameda:

    I think it’s fascinating that conservative are obsessed with AOC.

    Indeed. I suspect that it’s because she’s the perfect GOP nemesis: young, nonwhite, female, intelligent, educated, capable…