‘White House sought to conceal records of Trump’s Ukraine call’

Facing questions: Intelligence chief Joseph Maguire testifying before a House panel.   | Photo Credit: AFP

The White House moved to “lock down” all records of U.S. President Donald Trump’s phone call seeking Ukraine’s interference in the 2020 U.S. election, a whistleblower’s complaint released on Thursday alleges, in the latest explosive episode in the rapidly unfolding impeachment drama.

The top-secret complaint, declassified by the administration and released by Congress, caps a stunning week of revelations that have put Mr. Trump in the sharpest political and legal jeopardy of his presidency.

White House officials told the whistleblower they had likely “witnessed the President abuse his office for personal gain” in the July call with Ukraine leader Volodymyr Zelensky, according to the document.

In the days that followed, “I learned from multiple U.S. officials that senior White House officials had intervened to ‘lock down’ all records of the phone call, especially the official word-for-word transcript of the call that was produced,” the whistleblower said.

The anonymous official presented the nine-page complaint on August 12 to the inspector general of the intelligence community, a Trump appointee who found it a credible and “urgent concern” and forwarded it to the acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI).

Maguire testimony

But the DNI, Joseph Maguire, at first refused to deliver the complaint to Congress, raising concerns from Democrats that members of Trump's administration were improperly protecting the President.

On Thursday, Mr. Maguire, testifying before the House Intelligence Committee on why he originally withheld the complaint from Congress, said that he believed the whistleblower had “acted in good faith” and followed the law, but he withheld the complaint from Congress because Mr. Trump’s call was subject to executive privilege.

The Democratic-led House of Representatives has opened an impeachment inquiry to remove the President from office for abuse of power.

Trump calls it a joke

Mr. Trump on Wednesday dismissed as a “joke” the grounds laid out for the impeachment inquiry into him, as Democrats stood firm in accusing the President of a “mafia-style shakedown” of his Ukrainian counterpart.

“They are getting hit hard on this witch hunt because when they look at the information, it’s a joke,” said the President, who struck an uncharacteristically subdued tone at his first news conference since Democrats launched an official impeachment inquiry.

The call summary — which is not a verbatim transcript — shows Mr. Trump saying U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr and the President’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani would be in touch about probing the Ukraine-related activities of Mr. Biden and his son.

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Printable version | Sep 18, 2021 8:31:30 AM |

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