President Donald Trump asked the Ukrainian president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden’s son “to help the president’s 2020 re-election bid,” according to a whistleblower complaint that was released Thursday morning.
During the July 25 phone call, Trump also asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to debunk allegations that the Russians interfered with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The call came one week after the U.S. froze hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Ukraine.
The complaint also alleged that the White House tried to cover up the phone call by restricting and removing records and transcripts of the call, according to reports from multiple White House officials.
“This set of actions underscored to me that White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call,” the whistleblower, an unnamed intelligence officer, wrote in the complaint.
National Intelligence Acting Director Joseph Maguire, initially refused to share the Aug. 12 complaint with Congress. During a hearing by the House Intelligence Committee Thursday morning, Maguire said he and the Office of Legal Counsel did not find he was “legally required to transfer the information to the House Intelligence Committee under the Whistleblower Protection Act,” which stipulates the information must report a serious problem, abuse or violation of the law.
U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-21, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, tweeted Wednesday night that she believed the whistleblower complaint should be released to the public — but does “not support impeachment of President Trump.” She raised concerns during the Thursday hearing that in the complaint, the whistleblower said they were “not a direct witness to most of the events described.”
Stefanik was not available for comment Thursday.
Rep. Chris Collins, R-27, echoed Stefanik’s concerns, saying the complaint “shared with the public offers very little in the way of facts.”
“Instead we have a second-hand account of what may or may not have happened,” he said in an emailed statement. Stefanik and Collins are in the Republican minority in the House of Representatives. As information about Trump’s phone call with Zelensky unfolded, a growing number of House members supported the impeachment inquiry that Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched Tuesday. By Thursday morning, 218 House members said they support at least drafting and voting on articles of impeachment — up from 145 members Tuesday.
Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-19, is one of those members. Delgado released a statement Monday calling for the impeachment of Trump, saying that the president used the power of the presidency to pressure a foreign government to help him win an election.”
“This, by itself, is an impeachable offense,” he continued.
Delgado was not available for comment Thursday.
Alarms have also sounded over nearly $400 million in military aid that the administration withheld from Ukraine until last week. Privately, congressional Democrats are questioning whether the aid, which remained frozen during Trump’s call with Zelensky and for several weeks afterward, was related to the discussion of investigating Biden.
Massarah Mikati covers the New York State Legislature and immigration for Johnson Newspaper Corp. Email her at email@example.com or find her on Twitter @massarahmikati.