Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Whistleblower: White House Tried to 'Lock Down' Call Details
gvw_ap_news
By Associated Press
Published 5 years ago on
September 26, 2019

Share

WASHINGTON — The whistleblower complaint at the center of Congress’ impeachment inquiry alleges that President Donald Trump abused the power of his office to “solicit interference from a foreign country” in next year’s U.S. election. The White House then tried to “lock down” the information to cover it up, the complaint says.

“In the days following the phone call, I learned from multiple U.S. officials that senior White House officials had intervened to ‘lock down’ all the 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.”complaint 
The 9-page document released Thursday fleshes out the circumstances of a summertime phone call in which Trump encouraged his Ukraine counterpart to help investigate a political rival, alleges a central role for one of the president’s personal lawyers and a suggests a concerted White House effort to suppress the exact transcript, including by relocating it to a separate computer system.
“In the days following the phone call, I learned from multiple U.S. officials that senior White House officials had intervened to ‘lock down’ all the 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,” the complaint says.
With its precise detail and clear narrative, the document will likely accelerate the impeachment process and put more pressure on Trump to rebut its core contentions and on his fellow Republicans to defend him. The complaint provides a road map for corroborating witnesses and evidence, which will complicate the president’s efforts to characterize the findings as those of a lone partisan out to undermine him.
Trump insisted anew that it is all political. After the complaint was released, he immediately tweeted, “The Democrats are trying to destroy the Republican Party and all that it stands for. Stick together, play their game and fight hard Republicans. Our country is at stake.” The tweet was in all capital letters.

Multiple White House Officials Shared Consistent Details

The whistleblower complaint centers in part on a July phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which Trump prodded Zelenskiy to investigate Democratic political rival Joe Biden.
The White House released a rough transcript of that call on Wednesday.
The House intelligence committee released a redacted version of the complaint Thursday ahead of testimony from Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence. He acknowledged that the complaint alleged serious wrongdoing by the president but insisted that it was not his role to judge whether the allegations were credible or not.
Maguire said he was unfamiliar with any other whistleblower complaint in American history that “touched on such complicated and sensitive issues.” He praised the whistleblower as having acted honorably, said he recognized the complaint as immediately sensitive and important and tried to handle it in the right way.
“I believe that everything in this matter here is totally unprecedented.”
In the complaint, the anonymous whistleblower says that despite his or her not being present for Trump’s Ukraine call, multiple White House officials shared consistent details about it.
Those officials told the whistleblower that “this was ‘not the first time’ under this administration that a presidential transcript was placed into this codeword-level system solely for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive — rather than national security sensitive — information,” the complaint said.
The whistleblower said that White House officials had tried to suppress the exact transcript of the call that was produced — as is customary — by the White House Situation Room, according to the complaint.

Photo of President Donald Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy
President Donald Trump meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy at the InterContinental Barclay New York hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The Complaint Also Focuses on Rudy Giuliani

The officials told the whistleblower they were “directed” by White House lawyers to remove the electronic transcript from the computer system in which such transcripts are typically stored for coordination, finalization and distribution to Cabinet-level officials.

“If this was all so innocent, why did so many officials in the White House, in the Justice Department and elsewhere make such large efforts to prevent it from being made public?” — Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer
“This set of actions underscored to me that White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call,” the report said.
“If this was all so innocent,” said Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York, “why did so many officials in the White House, in the Justice Department and elsewhere make such large efforts to prevent it from being made public?”
The complaint also focuses on Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer. It says that multiple U.S. officials reported that Giuliani traveled to Madrid one week after the call to meet with one of Zelenskiy’s advisers, and that the meeting was characterized as a follow-up to the telephone conversation between the two leaders
House Democrats who are now mulling Trump’s impeachment pressed Maguire to explain why he withheld the intelligence community whistleblower’s complaint from Congress for weeks. He insisted he followed the law.
House Republicans largely steered clear of discussing the substance of the call during the hearing, focusing instead on their concerns that details of it had been leaked in the first place and about the way Democrats were characterizing it.
One exception was Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio, who said, “Concerning that conversation, I want to say to the president — this is not OK. That conversation is not OK. It’s disappointing to the American people.”
Later in the day, Maguire was to go behind closed doors to speak to the Senate intelligence panel.

Most Republicans Who Got an Advance Look at the Complaint Were Quiet

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday endorsed an impeachment investigation in light of the Ukraine revelations.
In a statement Thursday, the White House said, “Nothing has changed with the release of this complaint, which is nothing more than a collection of third-hand accounts of events and cobbled-together press clippings — all of which shows nothing improper.”
Late Wednesday, most Republicans who got an advance look at the complaint were quiet or defended the president as they left secure rooms. But at least one Republican said he was concerned by what he had read.
“Republicans ought not to be rushing to circle the wagons and say there’s no ‘there there’ when there’s obviously a lot that’s very troubling there,” said Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, a GOP member of the Senate intelligence panel who has been an occasional critic of Trump. He added that “Democrats ought not be using words like ‘impeach’ before they knew anything about the actual substance.”
Trump, whose administration had earlier balked at turning over the complaint, said Wednesday afternoon that “I fully support transparency on the so-called whistleblower information.”
The House and Senate intelligence committees have invited the whistleblower to testify, but it is uncertain whether the person will appear.
The unidentified whistleblower submitted a complaint to Michael Atkinson, the U.S. government’s intelligence inspector general, in August. Maguire then blocked release of the complaint to Congress, citing issues of presidential privilege and saying the complaint did not deal with an “urgent concern.” Atkinson disagreed, but said his hands were tied.

DON'T MISS

Scheffler Turns the Masters Into Another Sunday Yawner With a Dominating Win

DON'T MISS

Ethiopia’s Lemma Wins, Fresno’s Albertson 7th in Boston Marathon. Kenya’s Obiri Retains Women Title.

DON'T MISS

Vegas, US Tour and More Signings: Wrexham Has Plenty of Fun and Work Ahead After Latest Promotion

DON'T MISS

This Week’s Weather Will Take Us from Fleece to Flip-Flops

DON'T MISS

NBA Play-in Game Preview: West Games on Tuesday, East Games on Wednesday, Eliminations on Friday

DON'T MISS

Palestinian Supporters Block Golden Gate Bridge, Chicago’s O’Hare Airport

DON'T MISS

Biden’s Embrace of Trump’s Tariffs Could Spell Trouble for His Reelection: Fareed Zakaria

DON'T MISS

Ship That Caused Bridge Collapse Had Apparent Electrical Issues While Still Docked, Source Says

DON'T MISS

Bureau of Prisons to Close California Women’s Prison Where Inmates Have Been Subjected to Sex Abuse

DON'T MISS

Rosario, Pinto Homer off Snell in His Return to Tropicana Field as Rays Beat Giants

UP NEXT

Vegas, US Tour and More Signings: Wrexham Has Plenty of Fun and Work Ahead After Latest Promotion

UP NEXT

NBA Play-in Game Preview: West Games on Tuesday, East Games on Wednesday, Eliminations on Friday

UP NEXT

Ship That Caused Bridge Collapse Had Apparent Electrical Issues While Still Docked, Source Says

UP NEXT

The Latest | World Leaders Urge Israel Not to Retaliate for the Iranian Drone and Missile Attack

UP NEXT

US Shoots Down Iran-Launched Attack Drones as Biden Team Pledges ‘Support’ for Israel

UP NEXT

A Mission of Mercy, Then a Fatal Strike: How an Aid Convoy in Gaza Became Israel’s Target

UP NEXT

Reacher Star Alan Ritchson Calls Donald Trump a ‘Rapist’

UP NEXT

Israeli Settlers Rampage Through a West Bank Village, Killing 1 Palestinian and Wounding 25

UP NEXT

US Intelligence Finding Shows China Surging Equipment Sales to Russia to Help War Effort in Ukraine

UP NEXT

Several Writers Decline Recognition From PEN America in Protest Over Its Israel-Hamas War Stance

This Week’s Weather Will Take Us from Fleece to Flip-Flops

Weather /

23 mins ago

NBA Play-in Game Preview: West Games on Tuesday, East Games on Wednesday, Eliminations on Friday

25 mins ago

Palestinian Supporters Block Golden Gate Bridge, Chicago’s O’Hare Airport

33 mins ago

Biden’s Embrace of Trump’s Tariffs Could Spell Trouble for His Reelection: Fareed Zakaria

48 mins ago

Ship That Caused Bridge Collapse Had Apparent Electrical Issues While Still Docked, Source Says

2 hours ago

Bureau of Prisons to Close California Women’s Prison Where Inmates Have Been Subjected to Sex Abuse

2 hours ago

Rosario, Pinto Homer off Snell in His Return to Tropicana Field as Rays Beat Giants

3 hours ago

Are Americans Feeling Like They Get Enough Sleep? Dream On, a New Gallup Poll Says

3 hours ago

Profar’s Tiebreaking 3-Run Double in 7th Inning Lifts Padres Over Dodgers

3 hours ago

Tesla Is Planning to Lay Off 10% of Its Workers After Dismal 1Q Sales

3 hours ago

Scheffler Turns the Masters Into Another Sunday Yawner With a Dominating Win

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Scottie Scheffler drained all the drama out of the Masters. Which has become a familiar storyline at Augusta National. Despit...

2 mins ago

2 mins ago

Scheffler Turns the Masters Into Another Sunday Yawner With a Dominating Win

4 mins ago

Ethiopia’s Lemma Wins, Fresno’s Albertson 7th in Boston Marathon. Kenya’s Obiri Retains Women Title.

16 mins ago

Vegas, US Tour and More Signings: Wrexham Has Plenty of Fun and Work Ahead After Latest Promotion

Weather /
23 mins ago

This Week’s Weather Will Take Us from Fleece to Flip-Flops

26 mins ago

NBA Play-in Game Preview: West Games on Tuesday, East Games on Wednesday, Eliminations on Friday

33 mins ago

Palestinian Supporters Block Golden Gate Bridge, Chicago’s O’Hare Airport

48 mins ago

Biden’s Embrace of Trump’s Tariffs Could Spell Trouble for His Reelection: Fareed Zakaria

2 hours ago

Ship That Caused Bridge Collapse Had Apparent Electrical Issues While Still Docked, Source Says

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend