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Report: Whistleblower's Concerns Went Beyond Trump Phone Call

Lawmakers say complaint is 'deeply disturbing'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 26, 2019 4:40 AM CDT
Updated Sep 26, 2019 6:00 AM CDT
The White House is seen from the Ellipse in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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(Newser) – Lawmakers have now reviewed the whistleblower complaint that led to the Trump impeachment inquiry—and while the contents remain classified, Democrats and Republicans are commenting on what they read. Sources tell the New York Times that the intelligence official who filed the complaint had concerns that went beyond President Trump's conversation with Ukraine's president, which he heard about secondhand. The sources say the whistleblower was alarmed by how White House officials handled records of the call. Officials allegedly shifted the records of the Ukraine call and some of Trump's other conversations to a different computer network than the one where they are normally stored, sources tell the Washington Post.

The complaint also alleges that the July 25 conversation with Volodymyr Zelensky—a rough transcript of which was released Wednesday—was part of a wider effort by Trump and attorney Rudy Giuliani to pressure Ukrainian officials to investigate Joe Biden and other political opponents, according to the Post's sources. Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire will testify to Congress about the complaint Thursday. A roundup of reactions from a selected group of lawmakers who read the complaint in a secure room Wednesday night:

  • Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, described the allegations as "deeply disturbing" and "very credible," the Times reports. The Democrat slammed the administration for initially blocking the release of the complaint.
  • "Just read the whistleblower report," tweeted Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro. "This thing is bigger than I thought."
  • GOP Sen. Ben Sasse said that after reading the report, he believes the administration should refrain from attacking the whistleblower and that everyone needs to stop jumping to conclusions. "There are real troubling things here: Republicans ought not just circle the wagons, and Democrats ought not be using words like 'impeach' before they knew anything about the actual substance," he said, per Politico.
  • "Having read the documents in there I’m even more worried about what happened than I was when I read the memorandum of the conversation," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. "There are so many facts [that] have to be examined." He later said in a statement that the public should be allowed to read the "very troubling" complaint for themselves, NBC reports.
  • GOP Sen. Roy Blunt said his level of concern was "no higher" after reading the complaint, but he looked forward to hearing more from Maguire and intelligence community inspector general Michael Atkinson, who first received the complaint. "I think also at some point very quickly, we need to talk to the Justice Department," he said.
  • "I have just read the whistleblower complaint made available to House Intelligence Committee Members, tweeted Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik. "I believe strongly in transparency and it should be immediately declassified and made public for the American people to read."
(Read more Trump impeachment stories.)

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