The whistle-blower’s complaint accused President Trump of trying to compel Ukraine’s leader to help investigate a 2020 rival, and the White House of attempting to “lock down” records of the call.
After hearing that President Trump tried to persuade Ukraine to investigate a 2020 campaign rival, senior officials at the White House scrambled to “lock down” records of the call, a whistle-blower alleged in an explosive complaint released Thursday.
In an attempt to “lock down” all records of the call, in particular its “official word-for-word transcript,” White House lawyers told officials to move the transcript into a separate system reserved for classified information that is especially sensitive, actions that the whistle-blower suggested showed that those involved “understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call,” according to the complaint.
These and other details surrounding the call in which Mr. Trump pressured President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate a political rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., were so “deeply disturbing” to senior White House officials that an unnamed intelligence official felt compelled to file a formal whistle-blower complaint.
“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,” wrote the whistle-blower, who did not personally witness the actions but had heard accounts from multiple American officials. “The President’s personal lawyer, Mr. Rudolph Giuliani, is a central figure in this effort.” The complaint also added that Attorney General William P. Barr “appears to be involved as well.” The account did not include details about any role Mr. Barr had.
The complaint, grippingly written to detail a pattern of behavior by Mr. Trump and his administration, was particularly damning given Mr. Trump’s long record of dismissing the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to benefit him. House Democrats took steps to impeach Mr. Trump earlier this week, before the contents of the call and complaint were disclosed.