Written by Nicholas Fandos
A White House official who listened to President Donald Trump’s July phone call with Ukraine’s leader described it as “crazy,” “frightening” and “completely lacking in substance related to national security,” according to a memo written by the whistleblower at the center of the Ukraine scandal, a CIA officer who spoke to the White House official.
The official was “visibly shaken by what had transpired,” the CIA officer wrote in his memo, one day after Trump pressured President Volodymyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine in a July 25 phone call to open investigations that would benefit him politically.
A palpable sense of concern had already taken hold among at least some in the White House that the call had veered well outside the bounds of traditional diplomacy, the officer wrote.
“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 reelection bid in 2020,” the CIA officer wrote.
The document provides a rare glimpse into at least one of the communications with a White House official that helped prompt the whistleblower’s formal complaint to the intelligence community inspector general detailing a broad pressure campaign on Ukraine by Trump, administration officials and his personal lawyer.
The complaint and a reconstructed transcript released by the White House formed the basis of the House impeachment inquiry into Trump.
The inspector general, Michael Atkinson, handed the two-page memo over to Congress last week with other documents that shed light on the whistleblower and his actions. A person familiar with their contents, which Fox News first reported, described them to The New York Times. A lawyer for the whistleblower did not comment.
The whistleblower, who relied on “multiple U.S. government officials” for his complaint, said that Trump was “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.”
It was not clear whether the White House official he spoke to July 26 was the second whistleblower, who has also provided information to Atkinson, or a different person. Neither whistleblower’s name has been made public.
Little, if any, of the whistleblower’s complaint has been disproved, though Trump has sought to discredit him because his account was secondhand.