Sep 26, 2019 - Politics & Policy

4 takeaways from the Trump-Ukraine whistleblower complaint

Trump and Zelensky

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

A whistleblower complaint released by the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday alleges that President Trump used the power of his office to solicit foreign interference from Ukraine for the purpose of helping his 2020 re-election campaign.

The big picture: The allegations detailed in the complaint go beyond the summary of the phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky released by the White House on Wednesday.

  • While the call is still core to the whistleblower's concerns, the complaint also lays out a pattern of behavior stretching back months that involves Trump, his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, Attorney General Bill Barr and White House officials alarmed at what they're being asked to do.

The takeaways

1. Much of the information laid out in the report was exposed over the past weeks and months by reporters at the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and others — not to mention the fact that Trump himself also confirmed to the public that he had brought up the possibility of investigating Joe Biden in his call with Zelensky.

  • The whistleblower was not a direct witness to the phone call and alleged actions, but their description of the call, which was based on information from multiple White House officials, aligns with the memo released by the White House.

2. One of the main concerns that prompted the whistleblower to report their complaint was the White House's handling of the transcript of the Trump-Zelensky phone call. They allege that the White House attempted to "lock down" the summary in a sensitive computer system designed to hold national security information.

  • The complaint states that a White House official called this action "an act of abuse" because the call "did not contain anything remotely sensitive from a national security perspective" — supported by the fact that the released memo did not include any notable redactions.

3. 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 issues related to investigating Joe Biden for corruption.

4. An initial review by Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson found that despite "arguable political bias," he determined that the whistleblower complaint "appears credible." The Justice Department later blocked acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire from turning over the complaint to Congress.

Go deeper: Read the complaint with summaries of each section

Go deeper