White House Releases Whistleblower Complaint Linked To Trump’s Call With Ukrainian President

Only members of the House and Senate intelligence committees have so far been able to view the complaint.

The White House on Wednesday released a redacted version of the whistleblower complaint related to President Donald Trump’s call with the leader of Ukraine in July.

Only some members and staff of the House and Senate intelligence committees have thus far been allowed to view the complaint, which was released to them ahead of Thursday’s hearings with Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called the document “troubling” after viewing it on Wednesday.

“I’m even more worried about what happened than when I read the memorandum of the conversation,” he said. “There are so many facts that have to be examined. It’s very troubling.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also read the complaint on Wednesday evening, her office said.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) called the concerns raised in the complaint “urgent and credible.”

“The complaint itself is a five-alarm concern,” he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday after viewing the document.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said he found the allegations in the complaint “deeply disturbing.”

“I also found them deeply credible and I understand why the inspector general found them credible,” Schiff said, according to CNN.

Some Republicans also expressed their concern after reading the document. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah called it “troubling in the extreme,” while Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said its contents were “inappropriate,” according to The Washington Post.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) urged caution on both sides of the aisle but noted, according to CBS: “Republicans ought not to be rushing to circle the wagons to say there’s no there there when there’s obviously lots that’s very troubling there.”

Trump tweeted Wednesday that he supports “transparency on so-called whistleblower information.”

The release of the document comes one day after Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the launch of a formal impeachment inquiry.

The release is the latest gust in a political whirlwind that has engulfed the White House this month after a series of bombshell reports about the phone call. The Wall Street Journal first reported last week that a whistleblower within the intelligence community had filed a complaint after Trump called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25 and reportedly pressured him to investigate the family of one of Trump’s main political rivals, former Vice President Joe Biden. News organisations have since reported that the president ordered his administration to withhold nearly $400 million in military aid for Ukraine in the week before the phone call took place.

Critics say the call could amount to an unprecedented effort to compel a foreign power to intervene in an American election. Trump has rejected those claims, although he admitted that the call took place and that the Bidens came up. The president said he was more worried about “corruption” in Ukraine and the possible involvement of Biden’s son Hunter Biden, who served for five years on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. Trump has also admitted that he had withheld the military funds for Ukraine before the July 25 call.

The White House on Wednesday released what it said was a summary of the call, which confirmed Trump asked Zelensky to investigate Biden and his son. The president’s main concern appeared to be the 2016 ouster of a Ukrainian prosecutor who was investigating an energy company for which Biden’s son worked. The prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, was himself accused of corruption and later voted out by the Ukrainian Parliament.

“There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great,” Trump said, according to the memo, which was based on notes and recollections of Situation Room duty officers and National Security Council policy staff.

The whistleblower complaint, which reportedly deals with the alleged quid pro quo attempt, was deemed urgent and credible by the inspector general for the intelligence community when it was first filed. Lawmakers had repeatedly demanded that Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, comply with the law and hand over the complaint to congressional oversight committees, but the Trump administration had stonewalled those efforts until Wednesday.

Maguire defended his actions in a brusque statement this week, saying he wanted “to make clear that I have upheld my responsibility to follow the law every step of the way.” Maguire became Trump’s acting director of national intelligence a month ago after Dan Coats stepped down.

The tide seemed to turn earlier this week after the Senate unanimously passed a measure urging the release of the complaints and the White House began to worry about the optics surrounding its stonewalling. The New York Times reported Tuesday that Trump believes the allegations are not as damning as the media has reported, and he also said he would like to release a summary of the July call, which he has described as friendly and “largely congratulatory” toward Zelensky, who was elected in May.

Despite the president’s assertions, Pelosi took a historic step to initiate the impeachment proceedings on Tuesday, saying Trump had engaged in a “betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.”

“Therefore, today, I am announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry,” the speaker, who had largely resisted her party’s calls to open an impeachment inquiry, said in a short statement before the press.

The revelations will likely not end with the release of the redacted documents. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday that an attorney for the whistleblower said the person would like to speak with lawmakers to detail the complaint.

“We applaud the decision to release the whistleblower complaint as it establishes that, ultimately, the lawful whistleblower disclosure process can work,” the whistleblower’s attorneys said, according to The New York Times.

This article has been updated with additional comments from lawmakers.

Igor Bobic contributed to this report.


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