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White House tried to cover up Trump's Ukraine conversation, whistleblower alleges

  • White House tried to cover up Trump's Ukraine conversation, whistleblower alleges
    According to the whistleblower, in the days following the call, “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”. White House tried to cover up Trump's Ukraine conversation, whistleblower alleges

Pelosi condemns White House for trying to keep details from public, while Trump compares whistleblower’s source to ‘a spy’

Donald Trump’s actions on Ukraine “pose risks to US national security”, according to a whistleblower’s complaint released on Thursday which also appeared to reveal an attempt by the White House to cover up conversations with a foreign leader.

The whistleblower alleges in the explosive complaint that Trump used a phone call with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to “solicit interference” in the 2020 election, and that the White House then intervened to “lock down” the transcript of the call.

“In the course of my official duties, 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 whistleblower wrote.

The complaint was released as the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, testified before the House intelligence committee. Maguire said he had initially been blocked from releasing the complaint to Congress.

In his opening remarks on Thursday Maguire said the situation was “totally unprecedented”.

The complaint details how the Trump administration sought to block access to the transcript of the call with Zelenskiy – in which Trump asked the Ukraine president to “do us a favor” and offered help in investigating Joe Biden, a potential 2020 presidential rival.

According to the whistleblower, in the days following the call, “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”.

The White House released a memo of the call, but not a verbatim transcript, on Wednesday.

Officials were directed by White House lawyers to remove the transcript from the computer system where “such transcripts are typically stored”, the whistleblower wrote. The transcript was instead stored in a separate 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 this electronic system because the call did not contain anything remotely sensitive from a national security perspective,” the whistleblower wrote.

“This set of actions underscored to me that White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call.”

Donald Trump appeared to address the rolling Ukraine controversy on Thursday morning, tweeting: “THE GREATEST SCAM IN THE HISTORY OF AMERICAN POLITICS!”

Later, at a private event in New York, the president lashed out at those who helped to inform the whistleblower and alluded to retaliation.

In audio obtained and released by the Los Angeles Times, Trump says: “Who’s the person that gave the whistleblower the information? Because that’s close to a spy. You know what we used to do in the old days, when we were smart, right? The spies and treason? We used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”