Trump impeachment: At least four officials 'raised concerns' over Ukraine dealings before Zelensky call
At least four national security officials flagged to a White House lawyer their concerns about the Trump administration’s political dealings with Ukraine – even before President Donald Trump’s July phone call with that country’s president, according to The Washington Post.
Official warnings to National Security Council legal adviser John Eisenberg were issued earlier than what had previously been reported, shifting the timeline of concerns surrounding the administration’s dealings with Ukraine and Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which prompted a White House whistleblower complaint that’s now at the core of an impeachment inquiry of the president.
Their warnings followed White House signals that reported the president’s push for Kiev to deliver potentially damaging information on Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden, as well as the May ousting of a US ambassador to Ukraine and attempts by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to promote Ukraine conspiracies in the press.
Officials’ concerns developed after the abrupt removal of Marie Yovanovitch, the US ambassador to Ukraine, after she was targeted in a right-wing smear campaign that accused her of undermining the Trump administration.
Following the 25 July phone call, officials’ concerns were again brought to senior White House officials, including now-former national security adviser John Bolton, who received alerts over the transcript that already had been “locked down” within a classified computer server. Mr Bolton was fired last month.
The call’s transcript was moved within hours of the 9am call under the direction of White House lawyers, according to the whistleblower’s complaint.
According to the Post, one official went immediately to Mr Eisenberg after hearing the call, and he told an official that he would “follow-up” on the warnings he had received, though it’s not clear whether he did.The Post quoted one person familiar with events in the White House that “alarm bells were kind of ringing” as events unfolded.
Officials sounding alarms were not part of the so-called “swamp” nor the “deep state.” according to a former senior official speaking to the Post, but rather they were White House officials “who got concerned about this because this is not the way they want to see the government run”.
The concerns contradict Trump’s assertion that the phone call was “beautiful” and “perfect” and that subsequent impeachment threats are part of a Democratic “witch hunt garbage”.