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Politics

About That Whistleblower Complaint

It's hardly an impeachable bombshell, but it's still enough for Democrats.

Nate Jackson · Sep. 26, 2019

Many elected Democrats may not be able to find Ukraine on a map, but they do know President Donald Trump should be impeached for talking to its president. This morning’s news is that the still-anonymous whistleblower complaint that started the whole kerfuffle has been declassified, slightly redacted, and released. Is this the smoking gun?

Not really, because the complaint largely lays out what we already knew was an overblown accusation of Trump demanding a quid pro quo from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. In order to come to that conclusion, you have to put ellipses between at least 500 words of transcribed conversation — just as Leftmedia outlets are doing. But the fact that even some conservatives can read the transcript of Trump’s call and argue that the quid pro quo is evident indicates that the president was at a minimum not wise or well spoken in the call.

That wouldn’t exactly be a first.

According to the complaint, dated Aug. 12, “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. This interference includes, among other things, pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the President’s main domestic political rivals. The President’s personal lawyer, Mr. Rudolph W. Giuliani, is a central figure in this effort. Attorney General [William] Barr appears to be involved as well.”

The whistleblower was not personally present or listening in on the phone call; he (or she) received his information secondhand (and some of it thirdhand). But he bolstered his credibility a bit by recounting three things Trump said that are indeed in the transcript:

  • initiate or continue an investigation into the activities of former Vice President Joseph Biden and his son, Hunter Biden;

  • assist in purportedly uncovering that allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election originated in Ukraine, with a specific request that the Ukrainian leader locate and turn over servers used by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and examined by the U.S. cyber security firm Crowdstrike, which initially reported that Russian hackers had penetrated the DNC’s networks in 2016; and

  • meet or speak with two people the President named explicitly as his personal envoys on these matters, Giuliani and Attorney General Barr, to whom the President referred multiple times in tandem.

Then, the complaint continues, “In the days following the phone call, 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 — as is customary — by the White House Situation Room. This set of actions underscored to me that White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call.”

Or, this had become routine. According to Fox News, “The Trump administration reportedly began placing transcripts of Trump’s calls with several foreign leaders in a highly classified repository after leakers publicly divulged the contents of Trump’s private calls with the leaders of Mexico and Australia in 2017.”

And finally, regarding the timing of military aid to Ukraine, “On 18 July, an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) official informed Departments and Agencies that the President ‘earlier that month’ had issued instructions to suspend all U.S. security assistance to Ukraine. Neither OMB nor the NSC staff knew why this instruction had been issued. During interagency meetings on 23 July and 26 July, OMB officials again stated explicitly that the instruction to suspend this assistance had come directly from the President, but they still were unaware of a policy rationale. As of early August, I heard from U.S. officials that some Ukrainian officials were aware that U.S. aid might be in jeopardy, but I do not know how or when they learned of it.”

Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire is testifying on Capitol Hill this morning about the whistleblower complaint, so stay tuned to his assessment.

But here’s the bottom line: It looks like the whistleblower suspects that Trump was running his own investigation into the origins of “Russiagate.” It also appears that Trump’s actions were predicated on the fact that he has little trust in U.S. intelligence agencies, which makes sense given their attempted coup. The more Trump sees of the intel community, the less he trusts it — and for good reason. He would rather have his own trusted guys, like Giuliani (for better or worse), run the investigation instead of officials in the Justice Department.

It appears that Trump was working to ensure that, during a governmental transition in Ukraine, the investigation into Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden operatives seeking to influence the Ukrainian government and the U.S. election in 2016 did not get swept under the rug. This seems more like Trump seeking to find the truth behind who all the players were behind Russiagate than him trying to dig up new dirt on Biden.

“Democrats ought not to be using the word ‘impeach’ before they have the whistleblower complaint or before they read any of the transcript,” warned Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) Wednesday. They now have both, of course, and they will argue that it’s more than enough to go on. For that reason, Sasse also cautioned his own party: “Republicans ought not to be rushing to circle the wagons to say there’s [nothing] there when there’s obviously lots that’s very troubling there.”

Troubling but hardly conclusive or impeachable. And hysterical Democrats are going to have a tough time selling that to the American people, even with their Leftmedia super PAC shouting their talking points every night. Especially if people are reminded of how Democrats colluded with Ukraine to defeat Trump.

(Updated.)

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