The contents of a whistleblower complaint about a call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine’s president conflict with the official transcript of the conversation between the two leaders, raising questions about the credibility of the whistleblower and his or her purported sources.
The House Intelligence Committee released a copy of the complaint (pdf) on Sept. 26. Each allegation in the complaint is based on information the whistleblower learned from others, who he or she purports are White House officials; in several instances, the whistleblower opines on the hearsay as a matter of fact. The rest of the complaint consists of media reports and other publicly available information.
Although Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire told the House Intelligence Committee on Sept. 26 that the whistleblower complaint is aligned with the official transcript of the July 25 call between Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky, the complaint features three major contradictions.
In the first contradiction, the whistleblower claims that his purported White House sources told him that after “an initial exchange of pleasantries,” Trump “used the remainder of the call to advance his personal interests.” The transcript, which was released by the White House on Sept. 25, contradicts that claim, showing that the two leaders discussed potential meetings in Poland and Washington before concluding the call.
In the second contradiction, the whistleblower also claims that his sources told him that aside from the cases “purportedly dealing with the Biden family and the 2016 U.S. election … no other ‘cases’ were discussed.” The transcript contradicts that claim, showing that Trump and Zelensky discussed an inquiry into the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.
Zelensky asks Trump, “if you have any additional information that you can provide to us, it would be very helpful for the investigation to make sure that we administer justice in our country,” with regard to Yovanovitch. In the transcript, Yovanovitch’s name is misspelled “Ivanovich” and Zelensky appears to have misstated her title as “Ambassador to the United States from Ukraine.”
In the third contradiction, the whistleblower claims that one of his White House sources told him that the loading of the call transcript onto a secure system amounted to an abuse of that system, since the “the call did not contain anything remotely sensitive from a national security perspective.”
The transcript contradicts that claim. Before it was unclassified, the document was labeled “SECRET/ORCON/NOFORN.” According to classification guidelines, the label was appropriate since the call contained Trump’s views on foreign nations, including Germany, a key U.S. ally. Unauthorized disclosure of such information has the potential to harm national security.
Considering the highly detailed nature of the complaint, the contradictions between the whistleblower’s claims and the transcript are significant.
The controversy surrounding the Trump-Zelensky call led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to launch an impeachment inquiry. Pelosi made the announcement before the White House released the transcript of the call and before the complaint was made public. As a result, she may not have been aware that the complaint is based on hearsay, some of which has now been contradicted by the call transcript.
“Sounding more and more like the so-called Whistleblower isn’t a Whistleblower at all. In addition, all second hand information that proved to be so inaccurate that there may not have even been somebody else, a leaker or spy, feeding it to him or her? A partisan operative?” Trump wrote on Twitter on Sept. 27.