Sep 26, 2019 - Politics & Policy

"Not the first time"

A scan of relevant documents.

Document scan provided by U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee. Photo Illustration: Axios Visuals

The whistleblower report holds one central allegation: President Trump used his office to push Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his White House covered up the paper trail.

The big picture: The report chronicles events around the July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to allege a pattern of Trump administration misbehavior.

Before the call, multiple U.S. officials told the whistleblower that they were "deeply concerned by what they viewed as Mr. Giuliani's circumvention of national security decisionmaking processes."

  • The White House response to the call: White House officials allegedly "intervened to 'lock down' all records of the call" and place the transcript in a classified system, even though it didn't contain sensitive national security information.
  • A day after the call: The whistleblower said that the U.S. envoy to Ukraine and the U.S. ambassador to the EU met with Ukrainian officials and provided them with advice on how to "navigate" Trump's demand.
  • And on Ukraine's end: Multiple U.S. officials told the whistleblower that Ukrainian leadership was "led to believe" that a phone call or meeting between Trump and Zelensky would depend on whether Zelensky showed a willingness to "play ball" on the issues aired by Ukraine's Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko and Rudy Giuliani — i.e. investigating Joe Biden.

Between the lines: Expect a bunch of attention — and even some hearings — on the allegation found in the report's appendix.

  • "According to White House officials I spoke with, 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."

What's next: Don't be surprised to see efforts to unmask the whistleblower, even after they followed the proper legal channels.

  • Trump today called for treating the whistleblower and the people who aided them as treasonous spies.
  • "We used to handle it a little differently than we do now," he said. (Audio).

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