Whistleblower’s Claim That Senior State Dept. Official Was on Trump-Ukraine Call Inaccurate: Report
A claim made by an anonymous whistleblower that U.S. State Department Counselor Ulrich Brechbuhl was present during President Donald Trump’s telephone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, has been reported by CBS News as false.
A CIA officer filed the complaint through official whistleblower channels after receiving second-hand information he or she believed showed that Trump was “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country.”
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and has called the whistleblower’s complaint a “political hack job.”
“I don’t know the identity of the whistleblower,” Trump said during a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sept. 20 in the Oval Office. “I just hear it’s a partisan person, meaning it comes out from another party.”
The complaint claims several key members of the State Department either listened in on Trump’s July 25 call with Zelensky or interacted with Ukrainian officials to “contain the damage” to U.S. national security, and that “senior White House officials had intervened to ‘lock down’ all records of the phone call.”
Brechbuhl, a top aide to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, supposedly listened in on the call, during which Trump requested an investigation into Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, who had business dealings in Ukraine.
But the claim regarding Brechbul’s presence on the call has been proven false. CBS reporter Christina Ruffini wrote in a tweet on Sept. 26: “Scoop: Senior Govt Official tells @CBSNews Counselor to the State Department Ulrich Brechbuhl was NOT on the @POTUS call with #Zelensky, as the whistle blower complaint states.”
Scoop: Senior Govt Official tells @CBSNews Counselor to the State Department Ulrich Brechbuhl was NOT on the @POTUS call with #Zelensky, as the whistle blower complaint states.
— Christina Ruffini (@EenaRuffini) September 26, 2019
The whistleblower admitted to not having first-hand knowledge of the call and associated events, but justified pressing on with the complaint by saying: “However, I found my colleagues’ accounts of these events to be credible because, in almost all cases, multiple officials recounted fact patterns that were consistent with one another.”
The Ukrainian president, meanwhile, has denied being pressured to launch an investigation into the Bidens’ business deals in Ukraine. During a photo-op ahead of a bilateral meeting at the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 25, Zelensky said that “nobody pushed me” nor that Trump had pressured Ukrainian prosecutors to investigate.
“I think you read everything. I think you read text. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be involved to democratic open elections, elections of USA. No, sure, we had I think good phone call. It was normal. We spoke about many things, and I—so I think and you read it that nobody pushed me,” Zelensky told reporters at the United Nations.
Prosecutor Claims He Was Forced Out Due to Biden Probe
One of the key areas the complaint relates to is Trump’s request to investigate the Bidens’ business dealings in Ukraine.
In 2016, Biden pressured then Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to fire Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, who had led a criminal probe into Bursima Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company on whose board his son, Hunter Biden, sat. Bloomberg reported that the prosecutor’s termination was prompted by foot-dragging on unrelated corruption probes and that no evidence has been found of any connection to Biden’s son.
However, in a newly published sworn affidavit, obtained by The Hill, Shokin said the reason he was forced out was because Biden wasn’t pleased with the investigations into Burisma.
“The truth is that I was forced out because I was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into Burisma Holdings, a natural gas firm active in Ukraine, and Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was a member of the Board of Directors,” Shokin wrote.
Shokin said Poroshenko came to him multiple times and asked him to close down the probe into Burisma but the prosecutor refused.
“In my conversations with Poroshenko at the time, he was emphatic that I should cease my investigations regarding Burisma. When I did not, he said that the U.S. (via Biden) were refusing to release the USD$ 1 billion promised to Ukraine. He said that he had no choice.”
Declassified and Released Complaint About Trump
The complaint made against Trump that spurred Democrats to launch an impeachment inquiry has been declassified and released.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, released the complaint to the public on Sept. 26.
In a statement accompanying the release of the complaint, Schiff said: “This complaint should never have been withheld from Congress. It exposed serious wrongdoing, and was found both urgent and credible by the Inspector General.”
“This complaint is a roadmap for our investigation, and provides significant information for the Committee to follow up on with other witnesses and documents. And it is corroborated by the call record released yesterday,” he said. “I want to thank the whistleblower for having the courage to come forward, despite the reprisals they have already faced from the president and his acolytes. We will do everything in our power to protect this whistleblower, and every whistleblower, who comes forward. The public has a right to see the complaint and what it reveals.”
See the full whistleblower complaint below:
Full Transcript of Call Between Trump and Zelensky
The full transcript of a phone call between Trump and Zelensky was released on Sept. 25.
Trump said that he ordered the release to be transparent and to show he did nothing wrong.
The content of the transcript does not support the claim that Trump made a promise to Zelensky in exchange for investigating Joe Biden and his son. The transcript does not show that Trump exerted any pressure on Zelensky nor float the possibility of a quid-pro-quo.
See the full call transcript below: