White House Attorneys Directed Sealing Of Phone Transcript

President Donald Trump steps off Air Force One after arriving at Andrews Air Force Base, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019, in Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Trump had spent the week attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House on Friday confirmed a key detail in the intelligence whistleblower’s complaint alleging that President Donald Trump abused the power of his office.

A senior administration official acknowledged that the rough transcript of Trump’s July 25 phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was moved to a highly classified system maintained by the National Security Council at the direction of attorneys. The motivation and timing of the move remained unclear.

The whistleblower complaint, which is at the center of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, said the move to “lock down” details of the call suggested that “White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call.” Trump has argued everything was “appropriate.”

White House attorneys were made aware of concerns about Trump’s comments on the call before the intelligence community whistleblower sent his allegations to the inspector general.

The official was granted anonymity Friday to discuss sensitive matters.

Confirmation of the detail came as Trump stepped up his campaign against the anonymous whistleblower and the unnamed “White House officials” cited in the complaint, drawing a warning from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi against retaliation.

The complaint alleges that Trump abused the power of his office to “solicit interference from a foreign country” in next year’s U.S. election. In the July 25 phone call, days after ordering a freeze to some military assistance for Ukraine, Trump prodded the new Ukrainian president to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden and volunteered the assistance of both his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and Attorney General William Barr.

Late Thursday, Trump denounced people who might have talked to the whistleblower as “close to a spy” and suggested they engaged in treason, an act punishable by death. Then on Friday, he targeted the complainant, a CIA officer, tweeting, “Sounding more and more like the so-called Whistleblower isn’t a Whistleblower at all.”

He also alleged without evidence that information in the complaint has been “proved to be so inaccurate,” though none of the allegations have been demonstrated to be incorrect.

Pelosi told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show, “I’m concerned about some of the president’s comments about the whistleblower.”

She said the House panels conducting the impeachment probe will make sure there’s no retaliation against people who provided information in the case. On Thursday, House Democratic chairmen called Trump’s comments “witness intimidation” and suggested efforts by him to interfere with the potential witness could be unlawful.

Trump’s Friday comment questioning the whistleblower’s status could foreshadow an effort to argue that legal protection laws don’t apply to the person, opening a new front in the president’s battles with Congress. The intelligence community’s inspector general found the whistleblower’s complaint “credible” despite finding indications of the person’s support for a different political candidate.

As more Democrats have lent support to investigations that could result in the removal of the president, Pelosi has moved to focus the probe on the Ukraine matter, rather than the array of other open inquiries.

“I think we have to stay focused, as far as the public is concerned, on the fact that the president of the United States used taxpayer dollars to shake down the leader of another country for his own political gain,” she said Friday.

Pelosi declined to provide a timeline for the House impeachment investigation.

“They will take the time that they need, and we won’t have the calendar be the arbiter,” she said. But she added, “It doesn’t have to drag on.”

Meanwhile, Republicans were straining under the uncertainty of being swept up in the most serious test yet of their alliance with the Trump White House.

“We owe people to take it seriously,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a onetime Trump rival who is now a member of the intelligence committee.

“Right now, I have more questions than answers,” he said. “The complaint raises serious allegations, and we need to determine whether they’re credible or not.”

Legal experts said that by following proper procedures and filing a complaint with the government rather than disclosing the information to the media, the person is without question regarded as a whistleblower entitled to protections against being fired or criminally prosecuted.

“This person clearly followed the exact path he was supposed to follow,” said Debra D’Agostino, a lawyer who represents whistleblowers. “There is no basis for not calling this person a whistleblower.”

Lawyers say it also doesn’t matter for the purposes of being treated as a whistleblower if all of the allegations are borne out as entirely true, or even if political motives or partisanship did factor into the decision to come forward.

“What a whistleblower needs to have is a reasonable belief that the information they’re disclosing and complaining about could be a violation of a law, rule or regulation,” said Eric Bachman, another Washington lawyer who represents whistleblowers. “They do not need to be certain that there is a violation. It does not need to be proven in a court of law that there is a violation.”

Fresh questions were raised late Thursday about how the White House and the Justice Department handled the whistleblower complaint. The administration initially blocked Congress from viewing it, and only released a redacted version to lawmakers this week after the impeachment inquiry had begun.

White House and Justice Department attorneys were aware of the concerns about Trump’s call with Zelenskiy before the complaint was filed, according to a U.S. official and a person familiar with the matter. The intelligence official initially filed a complaint about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine with the CIA, which then alerted the White House and the Justice Department, before filing with the intelligence community’s inspector general, a process that granted the individual more legal protection.

The person familiar with the matter, as well as another person with knowledge of the case, confirmed that the whistleblower was a CIA officer.

The Associated Press is publishing information about the whistleblower’s background because the person’s credibility is central to the impeachment inquiry into the president. The New York Times first reported that the individual was a CIA officer.

The U.S. official and the two people familiar with the matter spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

The whistleblower’s attorney, Mark Zaid, said publishing details about the individual places the person in a dangerous situation, personally and professionally. The CIA referred questions to the inspector general.

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  1. Not only did the Orange Criminal do the crime but he attempted to cover it up. That nailed Sicky Dick Nixon. Trump didn’t have a good week. He’s now in the history books as the fourth president to undergo Impeachment Hearings in Congress. It will lead to Articles of Impeachment against him and an Impeachment trial in the Senate. What will he do to deflect the attention? Burn the Reishtag or invade Poland?

    • That’s a strange kind of “cover up,” releasing the transcript within a couple of days of the matter being brought up.

      But keep on dreaming. This one will for sure be the one to get him, unlike the last 80+ times your side screamed for impeachment for such “high crimes” as “because the Virginia governor wore blackface,” huh?

    • Or better yet.. will he turn to his stiff talking friend Binyumin nussenyuhi to lob some missiles somewhere so they can together create some kind of Jerusalem embassy smokescreen? Feh!

      • Ain’t it too bad. You just will not succeed in removing him from office. I still remb how many times you predcited his days are numbered. Nothing ever came to fruition. You are the boy who cries wolf. Yes Trump will do what he has to to stay in power. He may even win in 2020! Crooked or not he is here to stay buddy. You don’t like it too bad!

    • Translation: How dare the proles vote for the candidate we didn’t like! Why, everyone knows that under a good Stalinist regime, only the approved candidates may be elected.

  2. Nothing wrong with moving anything that incriminates Trump into a highly classified system to keep the deep state that’s lurking everywhere from revealing the Chosen One’s misdeeds which are necessary to make America great again.
    Don’t worry Trump’s brilliant pro bono lawyer, Rudy who at times feigns insanity to confuse the deep state, will either get to the bottom of the opponents crimes or will create a narrative for Sean Hannity to spew to his ignorant followers on the official Trump TV Network.
    Teflon Don Trump, head of the Trump Crime family will survive this effort to dethrone him since his loyal lemmings will support him even if he shoots someone on 5th Avenue.

    • Rudy was america mayor and here for us and when we needed him after 9/11. Rudy was undisputed hero till you fake newster decided too lie and bashmutz a great American hero. yes normal educated people support trump too. Now stop your silly lies about Rudy.

      Re concealing trump’s convo. Its very simple. We know you guys and the fake news will make him crazy for every conversation he has with foreign leader. You guys will stick your nose where it don’t belong. So yes all the convos need to be classified as confidential high secuity. Nothing wrong

      Rudy for Prez in 2024.

      Nice little game you have mr two year old re tring to use my screen name. Quite ironic how someone who despises Trump so much engages in same behavior. Only problem is your game is over buddy. Better luck next time you fool

  3. I am very surprised at the hatred that is shown by some of the comments on this blog. President Trump has shown great respect and admiration for Eretz Yisroel and Jews and Yiddishkeit in general. And the haters out there hate Jews, hate Israel, love BDS.

    The world does not care if we are Zionists, anti Zionists, Chareidi, conservative orthodox, Neturei Karta or anything in between. They want us dead. Plain and simple. And you don’t realize or care that you are a target in their gunsights.

    Grow up. Achdus is more important now than ever. In case you slept through the leining yesterday, we are all in the same boat

    • What does your comment mean? I agree we need achdus and should respect each others opinions without name calling. But this does not mean we have to be pro-trump. It’s like a fine jewish man who is a wonderful husband, Baal Tzedaka, etc, but earned his money illegally. He is not exonerated for his crime because he did other nice things.

      • 1) The anti trump commentators have been engaging in the most immature trump like tactics I have ever seen. Whether its people like you using ten screen names or people like the clown above trying to sow confusion and impersonate people. thats not an achdus kind of thing to do.
        2) You can argue not to vote for trump for his immoral behavior but if you really cared about achdus and other jews you’d also compliment trump where its warrnted and say thnaks for helping out jews and being the greatest ohev yisroel. That doesn’t mean he has your vote but at least thank him for that since you are part of klal yisroel. I have yet to see you do that


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