The whistleblower complaint is worse than I thought

I had the idea that the whistleblower complaint filed by the unidentified intelligence official who had concerns about the deal that Donald Trump was negotiating with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky was of a general nature, expressing misgivings about a single phone call. But the complaint itself that was filed with the inspector general has been released and it is very detailed and covers events over a period of time and involves multiple sources expressing concerns. It contains even more damaging information than the quasi-transcript of the phone call between Trump and Zelensky. It describes a concerted pattern of pressure applied to Zelensky even before he was sworn into office.

Andy Kroll, Ryan Bort, Tessa Stuart, and Tim Dickinson of Rolling Stone provide the full text of the complaint and, after looking closely at it, list all the problematic aspects that paint a pretty damning picture.

They start by saying that “Trump’s efforts to solicit foreign election interference is at the heart of the complaint”.

On the first page of the complaint, the anonymous whistleblower writes he or she decided to speak out after receiving a pile of evidence that Trump was “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 US election.” The whistleblower says he or she learned of these efforts by Trump and his allies from more than half a dozen US officials over a period of four months, and that the allegations constituted “a serious or flagrant problem, abuse, or violation of law or Executive Order.” The whistleblower, who was not a direct witness to the incidents outlined in the complaint, goes on to write he or she was “concerned that these actions pose risks to US national security and undermine the US Government’s efforts to deter and counter foreign interference in US elections.”

The authors summarize the other damaging contents under the following headings:

  • The White House tried to bury records of Trump’s July 25th call with Zelensky
  • The call was part of a broader, months-long campaign to pressure Zelensky
  • This wasn’t the first time the White House has tried to suppress a transcript of one of Trump’s calls for political reasons
  • Attorney General William Barr appears to have been “involved”
  • Officials were concerned about Rudy Giuliani’s efforts to pressure Ukraine into investigating the Bidens

This looks pretty bad. The Trump cult will have to work pretty hard to shut this one down.


  1. Jean says

    The whistleblower might not implicate Pence but Trump has.

    And the NY Times has put the whistle blower in danger by publishing that he’s a CIA officer. That is unethical.

  2. marner says

    This is the first time that I think it might make sense to impeach (from a perspective of maximizing the likelihood that Trump does not win a second term). He has deserved to be impeached since day 1, of course, for any number of reasons including but not limited to the emoluments clause.

    Don’t mean to hijack, but isn’t “The whistleblower says he or she learned of these efforts… ” awfully clunky compared to “The whistleblower says they learned of these efforts..”

  3. John Morales says

    Marner, yes, and it doesn’t even need a pronoun.

    “The whistleblower claims to have learned of these efforts …”

  4. says


    Yes, but that might have the side effect of normalizing gender neutral pronouns, and thus might contribute in some small way to making the lives of trans* persons less hellish. It is, of course, forbidden for that reason.

    @Reginald and @Jean:
    As for Pence, well, he’s been involved in this as well: he’s been documented performing the role of diplomatic go-between in which it was made clear he was communicating the administration’s ongoing concerns with “corruption” which is, obviously, also how Trump was coding this during the phone call that’s getting so much attention and in quite a number of other efforts, both before and after that phone call. Given that the administration was consistent in connecting addressing “corruption” with investigating Biden, Pence’s participation in spreading that message is necessarily participating in the corrupt and illegal plot to place leverage on the Ukraine to perform electorally-significant favors for Trump personally. As Jean references (without spelling it out) Trump has personally confirmed Pence’s role in attempting to convince Ukraine to investigate Biden, so I think Pence is not going to be able to extricate himself from this thicket.

  5. Pierce R. Butler says

    … he or she learned of these efforts by Trump and his allies from more than half a dozen US officials over a period of four months…

    Which tells us a depressing lot about how many “officials” accept the degraded condition of the US government these days.

  6. Ridana says

    I noticed the belabored use of “he…or she” during the hearing yesterday too, and I think there’s a two-fold agenda of 1) wanting to appear as if we don’t know the gender of WB and we’re trying real hard not to be overtly sexist by assuming WB is a man; and 2) emphasizing that the WB is a single person who didn’t even witness any of this first hand. The use of the singular “they” might maybe possibly confusingly suggest that the WB is acting as the spokesperson of a group and not just one lone dissident or maybe even spy!! bent on raking muck in the Administration.

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