‘Whistleblower’ Complaint Entirely Hearsay and Media Claims; Distorts Ukraine Transcript

White House shadow (Zach Gibson / AFP / Getty)
Zach Gibson / AFP / Getty

The White House declassified and released a largely unredacted version Thursday of the “whistleblower” complaint that Democrats are relying on to pursue the impeachment of President Donald Trump over a request that Ukraine investigate alleged corruption related to Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden.

The document contains no first-hand knowledge of the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and relies entirely on leaks by “White House officials.” The “whistleblower” even admits: “I do not know which side initiated the call.”

Some allegations in the complaint seem to be distortions of exaggerations of information in the transcript itself, which the White House released Wednesday. For example, the whistleblower claims that Trump “praised Ukraine’s Prosecutor General, Mr. Yuriy Letsenko.” Trump appears never to have mentioned Letsenko, and his reference to a prosecutor (“I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down”) was a reference to former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin. Shokin was investigating Burisma Holdings, on whose board Hunter Biden served, at the time Joe Biden demanded he be fired, under threat of withholding $1 billion in American aid.

In addition, the whistleblower goes beyond reporting alleged misconduct and proceeds to build a case against the president’s conduct of foreign relations with Ukraine, relying extensively on reports from the mainstream media, including the New York TimesThe HillThis Week with George Stephanopoulous on ABC News, and other sources.

That repeats a pattern from the “Russia collusion” claim, in which the FBI relied partly on media reports to justify applying for warrants to conduct surveillance on Trump campaign officials.

The document also alleges that the White House sequestered the transcript of the Ukraine phone call (though, given the fact that “Multiple White House officials” were apparently leaking its contents, perhaps there was good reason).

On Tuesday, Fox News reported that the Office of Intelligence Community Inspector General had found that the whistleblower had a political bias against the president and in favor of one of his 2020 rivals. The document seems to confirm that, as it devotes attention to policy arguments against Trump’s conduct of relations with Ukraine.

The whistleblower complains, for example, about decisions made by the administration, including the cancelation of a trip by Vice President Mike Pence to attend Zelensky’s inauguration.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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