WORLD

Ukraine call whistleblower is CIA officer: report

The unidentified individual who filed a complaint alleging U.S. President Donald Trump solicited Ukraine's leader to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden is a CIA officer in the White House, according to a report published Thursday.

The person is a male but other details about his identity are scarce, according to the New York Times who made the assertion based on the word of three anonymous individuals familiar with the individual's identity.

The whistleblower's complaint was made public earlier Thursday by the House Intelligence Committee.

In it, he alleges the White House scrambled to "lock down" records of a telephone conversation in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate leading Democratic candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, on the president's so-far unsubstantiated claims of corruption.

The individual said in the nine-page complaint he received information from "multiple U.S. government officials" alleging Trump was "using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election."

That included requests to Zelensky during the July 25 telephone call to investigate the Bidens.

In the ensuing days following the call, the whistleblower alleges the White House sought to reign in any records of the conversation, including a "word-for-word" transcript that normally accompanies calls made in the White House Situation Room.

Officials told the whistleblower that White House lawyers directed staffers to remove the electronic transcript of the call from the computer system where they are normally held and transfer it to another system on which classified information "of an especially sensitive nature" is normally stored.

The complaint appears to indicate that the individual is a trained analyst with experience an understanding of Ukrainian politics and knowledge of the law, according to the Times' analysis. The individual's lawyers did not confirm he works for the CIA, and warned the Times that releasing information on him is dangerous.

The CIA declined to comment.

The individuals who are aware of his identity told the Times he did not work on the team that deals with calls with foreign leaders.

Trump took to the offensive, saying on Twitter: "A whistleblower with second hand information? Another Fake News Story!"

"See what was said on the very nice, no pressure, call. Another Witch Hunt!" he said.

The White House released a rough transcript of the call Wednesday, which it noted is not verbatim.

"I would like you to do us a favor," Trump said after Zelensky raised the issue of arms purchases from the U.S., according to the transcript.

"There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution, and a lot of people want to find out about that, so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great," Trump said.

"I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call, and I am also going to have Attorney General Barr call, and we will get to the bottom of it. I'm sure you will figure it out."

Trump was referring to his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

The whistleblower said multiple officials informed him Giuliani then traveled to Spain around Aug. 2 to meet Zelensky aide, Andriy Yermak, as a "direct follow-up" to the July 25 call.

Revelations of the complaint and ensuing claims Trump sought to hold up hundreds of millions of dollars in military funding to Ukraine to leverage Zelensky have prompted the House of Representatives to open an impeachment probe into Trump.

Biden is the leading Democratic nominee heading into the 2020 presidential race, making him a clear political rival to the president.

Trump acknowledged the call and freezing aid just days before, but denied he held up funding to pressure Zelensky, insisting there was no "quid pro quo" -- a favor or advantage granted or expected in return for something.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi initiated a formal impeachment investigation into the president on Tuesday, setting off a chain of events that could lead to the president's ouster.

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