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Whistleblower complaint released: Multiple government officials believe Trump 'sought foreign help in 2020 reelection bid'

'I have received information from multiple US 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 US election'

Chris Riotta
New York
Thursday 26 September 2019 14:45 BST
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Trump uses UN setting to attack critics in rambling speech: 'How can they impeach for that?'

A US intelligence officer feared that Donald Trump was abusing his office by trying to get a foreign power to interfere in next year's election and that his aides tried to cover it up, an official complaint reveals.

The House intelligence committee has released a declassified whistleblower complaint that sparked an official impeachment inquiry against Mr Trump.

“I have received information from multiple US 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 US election,” the complaint reads. “This interference includes, among other things, pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the President’s main domestic political rivals.”

The report - which the White House had previously blocked from being handed to Congress - centres on a July phone call in which Mr Trump appeared to press his Ukrainian counterpart to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, who is the frontrunner to face the president in next year's election.

A partial transcript of that call was released yesterday.

Following the phone call, the whistleblower describes an apparent attempt to “lock down” all records of the phone call, “especially the official word-for-word transcript of the call that was produced”.

White House officials were allegedly "directed" by lawyers to remove the transcript from the computer system where it would normally be 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. One White House official described this act as an abuse of the electronic system because the call did not contain anything remotely sensitive from a national security perspective.”

It is also alleged that Mr Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City, “is a central figure in this effort”, and that the attorney-general, William Barr, “appears to be involved as well”.

The official, who reportedly is a senior member of the US intelligence community, said several other state department and intelligence community officials “were also briefed on the contents of the call”.

The whistleblower acknowledges they were not a “direct witness to most of the events described”, but says they heard from over half a dozen US officials whose accounts they found to be “credible because, in almost all cases, multiple officials recounted fact patterns that were consistent with one another”.

The president vowed to release a fully declassified version of the transcript before his White House put out the five-page memorandum, which Democrats on Capitol Hill described as “highly edited”.

White House officials “were deeply disturbed by what had transpired in the phone call,” the complaint reads. “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.”

Mr Trump released a memorandum of the 25 July phone call yesterday that showed him discussing Mr Biden with the Ukrainian president, as well as the “incompetent performance” of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who testified before Congress a day before.

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The president wrote in an all-caps tweet shortly after the release of the complaint: “THE DEMOCRATS ARE TRYING TO DESTROY THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AND ALL THAT IT STANDS FOR. STICK TOGETHER, PLAY THEIR GAME, AND FIGHT HARD REPUBLICANS. OUR COUNTRY IS AT STAKE!”

The release of the complaint came just before acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire appeared before the House intelligence committee to discuss the complaint.

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