“In the course of my official duties, I have received information from multiple U.S. Government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election,” the whistle-blower writes. “This interference includes, among other things, pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the President’s main domestic political rivals.”
The report adds, “I am also concerned that these actions pose risks to U.S. national security and undermine the U.S. Government’s efforts to deter and counter foreign interference in U.S. elections.”
Central to the complaint is the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a highly incriminating transcript of which the White House released on Wednesday. During that call, Trump discussed American aid to Ukraine while pressuring Zelensky to find a server supposedly related to the hacking of the Democratic National Convention during the 2016 presidential election, and asking him to investigate the Biden family’s business dealings in Ukraine.
“The White House officials who told me this information were deeply disturbed by what had transpired in the phone call,” the report states. “They told me that there was already a ‘discussion ongoing’ with White House lawyers about how to treat the call because of the likelihood, in the officials’ retelling, that they had witnessed the President abuse his office for personal gain.”
But as the complaint makes clear, this was not a one-off call. Instead, the Trump administration had been involved in a sweeping, sustained effort since at least spring 2019 to dig up dirt in Ukraine. Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, conducted a series of meetings with Ukrainian officials, seeking information to discredit Trump’s political rivals. This included then–Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko, who had made public claims of corruption against the Bidens.
In May, Vice President Mike Pence canceled a scheduled trip to Zelensky’s inauguration, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry went instead. The whistle-blower says it was “made clear” that Trump didn’t want to meet with Zelensky until he saw how the Ukrainian president “chose to act” in office: “Multiple U.S. officials told me that Ukrainian leadership was led to believe that a meeting or phone call between the President and President Zelensky would depend on whether Zelensky showed willingness to ‘play ball’ on the issues that had been publicly aired by Mr. Lutsenko and Mr. Giuliani.” In other words, Ukrainian officials understood themselves to be engaged in a quid pro quo even before the July 25 phone call.
The Trump administration also abruptly fired the ambassador to Ukraine, a respected career Foreign Service officer. In an interview with the Ukrainian press, Giuliani alleged that she had been conspiring against Trump.