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Whistleblower's complaint: What we know, what we don't know

Following a House intelligence committee hearing regarding a whistleblower's explosive complaint about national security and the Trump White House, the committee's chairman said the complaint provides a "good roadmap" for further investigation. (Sept. 26) (Credit: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The Whistleblower’s Complaint

WHAT WE KNOW:

Trump’s request of Zelensky

In a July 25 call, President Donald Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for a “favor” — to investigate his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son, and to investigate the origins of the Democratic National Committee’s hacked email server, according to a summary of the call released Wednesday by the White House. The call is also detailed in the whistleblower’s complaint. The whistleblower said White House officials told them that they were “deeply disturbed by what had transpired in the phone call.” The whistleblower also described an effort by other White House officials to “lock down” access to electronic records of the call. 

Giuliani pressed Ukraine on Bidens

The complaint details previously reported meetings between President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and high-ranking Ukrainian officials, including Ukraine's special anticorruption prosecutor and a former Ukrainian diplomat. The complaint notes that Giuliani, in news reports, “confirmed that he was focused on encouraging Ukrainian authorities to pursue investigations into alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and alleged wrongdoing by the Biden family.” The complaint indicates “multiple U.S. officials” said “that they were deeply concerned by what they viewed as Mr. Giuliani's circumvention of national security decision making processes to engage with Ukrainian officials and relay messages back and forth between Kyiv and the President."

Ukraine prosecutors claim no evidence of Biden wrongdoing

Trump and Giuliani in public remarks have sought to cast a cloud over Hunter Biden’s role as a board member of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma while his father was in office. Trump has alleged that Biden used his position to pressure Ukrainian investigators to drop an investigation into his son, but Ukraine’s current prosecutor has said there never was an investigation into Hunter Biden and there has been no evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens to investigate.

WHAT WE DON’T KNOW

The whistleblower’s identity

The whistleblower is a U.S. intelligence official who filed a complaint with the intelligence communities' inspector general. Under federal protections provided to those who file whistleblower complaints, the individual’s identity has not been released. Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire told the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday he is unaware of the whistleblower’s identity, but noted the inspector general determined his complaint “appeared credible” and was “urgent.”

The White House officials cited by the whistleblower

The whistleblower’s complaint does not detail the names of the officials who discussed their concerns, but the complaint’s details match up with a summary of the call with Zelensky released by the White House on Wednesday. 

Was Giuliani authorized to engage in such talks with Ukraine?

Giuliani has told reporters the State Department “asked me” to speak with top Ukrainian officials on behalf of the U.S. president, but department officials told NBC News they made no such request. It is illegal for private citizens to negotiate with a foreign power on behalf of the United States, under the Logan Act.

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