The formal complaint from an anti-Trump “whistleblower” alleging various crimes by President Donald Trump is riddled with third-hand gossip and outright falsehoods. The document was declassified by Trump Wednesday evening and released to the public Thursday morning. The complaint, which was delivered to the chairmen of the House and Senate intelligence committees, follows the same template used in the infamous and debunked Clinton campaign-funded Steele dossier.
Rather than provide direct evidence that was witnessed or obtained firsthand by the complainant, the document instead combines gossip from various anonymous individuals, public media reports, and blatant misstatements of fact and law in service of a narrative that is directly contradicted by underlying facts. A footnote in the document even boasts about its use of “ample open-source information.”
Contrary to news reports asserting that the complaint included volumes of information incriminating Trump, it is instead based entirely on the president’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and various public media reports.
“I was not a direct witness to most of the events” characterized in the document, the complainant confesses on the first page. Instead, the complainant notes, the document is based on conversations with “more than half a dozen U.S. officials.” Those officials are not named, and their positions are not identified anywhere in the letter.
The complainant begins by falsely characterizing a July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelensky, the transcript of which was released by the White House on Wednesday.
Trump made a “specific request that the Ukrainian leader locate and turn over servers used by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and examined by the U.S. cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike,” the complainant alleges. A review of the transcript of the call shows that while Trump mentioned Crowdstrike once during the call, he never made such a request about locating and turning over multiple servers to the U.S.
The complainant also falsely alleges that Trump told Zelensky that he should keep the current prosecutor general at the time, Yuriy Lutsenko, in his current position in the country.
“The President also praised Ukraine’s Prosecutor General, Mr. Yuriy Lutsenko, and suggested that Mr. Zelensky might want to keep him in his position,” the complainant alleges, based on gossip he says he heard from unnamed White House officials.
Trump made no such suggestion to Zelensky, according to the transcript of the phone call. While Trump did say that it was “unfair” that a prosecutor who was “very good” was “shut down,” it’s not clear that Trump was even referring to Lutsenko, as a previous prosecutor named Viktor Shokin was fired after he opened investigations into a Ukrainian energy company that placed Hunter Biden, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son, on its board.
Trump directly references Shokin later in the conversation.
“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,” Trump said.
In 2018, Joe Biden bragged on camera that his threats to withhold a billion dollars in loan guarantees from Ukraine directly led to Shokin’s firing.
The complainant then alleges, without evidence, that efforts to secure the records of the call to prevent unauthorized access to classified information are themselves proof of corruption.
The transcript was “loaded into a separate electronic system that is otherwise used to store and handle classified information of an especially sensitive nature,” the complainant claims. “One White House official described this act as an abuse of this electronic system because the call did not contain anything remotely sensitive from a national security perspective.”
The complainant provides zero evidence beyond the opinion of an anonymous official that phone conversations between world leaders do not contain “anything remotely sensitive.” Trump formally declassified the transcript of the phone call, which had previously been classified as “SECRET/NOFORN,” meaning the information could not be shared with uncleared U.S. individuals or any foreign nationals, earlier this week.
In a footnote, the complainant even alleges that the mere classification of phone calls between world leaders was itself a corrupt act.
Following the section on Trump’s phone call with Zelensky, the complainant then devotes several pages to summaries of various news articles as proof of the underlying allegations in the complaint. The complainant quotes George Stephanopoulos (an ABC News employee who previously served in President Bill Clinton’s White House), The Hill, Bloomberg News, Politico, Fox News, the New York Times, and even Twitter.
The document itself is riddled not with evidence directly viewed by the complainant, but repeated references to what anonymous officials allegedly told the complainant: “I have received information from multiple U.S. Government officials,” “officials have informed me,” “officials with direct knowledge of the call informed me,” “the White House officials who told me this information,” “I was told by White House officials,” “the officials I spoke with,” “I was told that a State Department official,” “I learned from multiple U.S. officials,” “One White House official described this act,” “Based on multiple readouts of these meetings recounted to me,” “I also learned from multiple U.S. officials,” “The U.S. officials characterized this meeting,” “multiple U.S. officials told me,” “I learned from U.S. officials,” “I also learned from a U.S. official,” “several U.S. officials told me,” “I heard from multiple U.S. officials,” and “multiple U.S. officials told me.”
A review of the entire complaint shows it is not so much an example of whistle-blowing, an act that can only be done by the individual holding the whistle, but an elaborate gossipy game of telephone between unnamed individuals whose motives and credibility are impossible to ascertain.
In fact, the Department of Justice (DOJ) found in its review of the complaint from the anonymous official that the intelligence community inspector general found “indicia of an arguable political bias on the part of the Complainant in favor of a rival political candidate.”
“The complaint does not arise in connection with the operation of any U.S. government intelligence activity, and the alleged misconduct does not involve any member of the intelligence community,” the DOJ legal opinion noted. “Rather, the complaint arises out of a confidential diplomatic communication between the President and a foreign leader that the intelligence-community complainant received secondhand.”
DOJ officials determined that the complaint was statutorily deficient since the president is an independent constitutional officer who is not subordinate to unelected intelligence agency bureaucrats. The DOJ opinion also determined that the complaint, which was based almost entirely on hearsay, was not “urgent” as required by statute and therefore not required to be submitted to congressional intelligence committees.