Donald Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president was “crazy”, “frightening” and had nothing to do with national security, a White House official reportedly told the CIA whistle blower at the centre of the impeachment scandal shortly after the conversation took place.
The president has been keen to downplay the importance of his interactions with Ukraine after allegations were made by a whistleblower claiming he had attempted to pressure the leader of the eastern European country Volodymyr Zelensky into investigating his political rival Joe Biden, as well as his son.
Mr Trump has previously described the as “very normal” and a “perfect call”.
However figures in his own administration appear to have disagreed in the immediate aftermath of the call. According to reports in the New York Times, the whistleblower – a CIA Officer – spoke to one administration official who was “visibly shaken by what had transpired” shortly after the conversation had taken place.
“The official stated that there was already a conversation underway with White House lawyers about how to handle the discussion because, in the official’s view, the president had clearly committed a criminal act by urging a foreign power to investigate a U.S. person for the purposes of advancing his own re-election bid in 2020,” the CIA officer wrote.
The call’s transcript was placed in a storage system specifically designated for highly sensitive information relating to national security, although the White House official is reported to have said its substance was “completely lacking in substance related to national security”.
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The whistleblower added that the official “seemed keen to inform a trusted colleague within the national security apparatus about the call”.
The White House figure was just one of the “multiple US officials” the whistleblower spoke to before formally lodging his complaint, which was subsequently suppressed by the justice department before spilling over to the US media.
His two page memo, which was handed over to congress last week, now makes up the core of the effort to impeach the president over allegations he had pressured Ukraine into performing political favours ahead of the 2020 election campaign.
Revelations of the details of the CIA officer’s complaint comes as a second whistleblower with “first-hand knowledge” of the allegations against Mr Trump steps forwards.
Lawyer for both whistleblowers Mark Zaid said the second person to provide evidence on the presidents’ actions worked in intelligence and had “first-hand knowledge that supported” the original whistleblower.