Donald Trump. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/AFP/JOE RAEDLE
Donald Trump. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/AFP/JOE RAEDLE

Washington — Here are the key points of the anonymous intelligence official’s whistle-blower complaint about US President Donald Trump’s July 25 telephone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

During the call, Trump repeatedly asked Zelensky to conduct an investigation into potential 2020 Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who had served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.

Revelations about the call prompted the Democrat-led House of Representatives to launch an impeachment inquiry seeking to remove the president for abuse of power.

‘Urgent concern’

In the August 12 complaint, the whistle-blower said they wanted to report a matter of “urgent concern”, namely that the “President of the US is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 US election”.

“This interference includes, among other things, pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the president’s main domestic political rivals,” the complaint says.

The phone call 

The whistle-blower’s account of the Trump-Zelensky call is largely in line with the transcript of the conversation released by the White House on Wednesday.

According to the complaint, about a dozen White House officials listened to the calls along with a state department official, T Ulrich Brechbuhl.

“After an initial exchange of pleasantries, the president used the remainder of the call to advance his personal interests. Namely, he sought to pressure the Ukrainian leaders to take actions to help the president’s 2020 re-election bid,” the complaint says.

Trump specifically asked Zelensky to “initiate or continue” an investigation of the Bidens and meet with his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and attorney-general Bill Barr, the complaint says.

Trump also sought Ukraine’s assistance to prove that allegations that Russia interfered in the 2016 US presidential election originated in Ukraine.

‘Lock down’

The whistle-blower said some White House officials were “deeply disturbed by what had transpired in the phone call” because of the likelihood “they had witnessed the president abuse his office for personal gain.”

The whistle-blower said they had learned from multiple US officials that “senior White House officials had intervened to ‘lock down’ all records of the phone call”, including the word-for-word transcript.

“White House officials told me that they were ‘directed’ by White House lawyers to remove the electronic transcript from the computer system in which such transcripts are typically stored,” the complaint says. “Instead, the transcript was loaded into a separate electronic system that is otherwise used to store and handle classified information of an especially sensitive nature.”

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

The whistle-blower said it was “not the first time” a Trump phone call was filed in this manner “solely for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive — rather than national security sensitive — information”.

Rudy Giuliani 

The whistle-blower complaint provides extensive detail about the efforts of Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, to pursue the allegations against the Bidens with Ukrainian officials.

“Starting in mid-May, I heard from multiple US officials that they were deeply concerned by what they viewed as Mr Giuliani’s circumvention of national security decision-making processes to engage with Ukrainian officials and relay messages back and forth between Kiev and the President,” the complaint says.

Military aid to Ukraine 

Trump has been accused by Democrats of withholding millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine as a quid pro quo in exchange for its agreement to investigate the Bidens, a charge the president denies.

The whistle-blower complaint does not delve deeply into this accusation but notes that on July 18 the White House budget office ordered a suspension of security aid to Ukraine at Trump’s order.

The complaint says, “Multiple US officials told me that the Ukrainian leadership was led to believe that a meeting between the [US] president and President Zelensky would depend on whether Zelensky showed willingness to ‘play ball’ on the issues that had been publicly aired by [former Ukrainian prosecutor-genera,l Yuri] Lutsenko and Giuliani.” 

AFP