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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 45)

Ukraine, the ‘New Berlin Wall,’ Once Again Lies at the Center of Scandal

IVANO-FRANKIVSK, Ukraine — His voice crackling over what he complained was a “terrible” sound system, Donald J. Trump in September 2015 heaped praise on the oligarch who had invited him to speak by video link from New York to a conference in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine.

The Ukrainian oligarch, Victor Pinchuk, had secured 20 minutes of Mr. Trump’s time — and a heap of flattery from the future president, who described him as “a very, very special man” — with a donation of $150,000 to Mr. Trump’s now defunct foundation.

The same oligarch, a steel magnate long enmeshed with Ukraine’s business and political elite, had earlier donated more than $10 million to the Clinton Foundation and been invited to dine at the Washington home of Hillary and Bill Clinton.

The equal opportunity largess of powerful Ukrainians like Mr. Pinchuk helps explain why so many of the most dimly lit and hazardous roads of American politics keep leading back to Ukraine, a poor, dysfunctional country on Europe’s eastern fringe.

Caught between the clashing geopolitical ambitions of Russia and the West, Ukraine has for years had to balance competing outside interests and worked hard to cultivate all sides and also rival groups on the same side, no matter how incompatible their agendas, with offers of money, favors and prospects for career advancement.

Paul Manafort, Rudolph Giuliani, Joe Biden’s son Hunter and Hillary Clinton have all, at one time or another, found their way there, escorted by Ukrainian guides with deep pockets and a keen sense of how to appeal to their vanities, ambitions and greed.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_161483037_1b708e6a-d9a7-491d-8b8f-70be18ce4e69-articleLarge Ukraine, the ‘New Berlin Wall,’ Once Again Lies at the Center of Scandal Zelensky, Volodymyr Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Miss Universe Organization Manafort, Paul J Lutsenko, Yuri V KIEV, Ukraine Giuliani, Rudolph W Clinton Foundation Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter Berlin Wall

President Trump met with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodomyr Zelensky, in New York on Wednesday.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

“The fact is Ukraine is an amazing place,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Pinchuk’s conference in 2015. “I’ve known so many people over so many years in the Ukraine.”

He told Ukraine’s new president, Volodomyr Zelensky, much the same thing this week when they met in New York, though the only specific person from Ukraine he wanted to tell Mr. Zelensky about was a former Miss Universe contestant.

Ukraine, said Serhii Plokhy, a Harvard historian whose books include “The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine,” has for centuries been tugged in different directions by rival suitors, and became a “battlefield” between Russia and the West when it declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

“The front lines are always places that attract both heroes and villains who go there from world capitals to make a name, advance a career, make a fortune, etc. — and then carry back home legacies, memories and skeletons for their closets,” Mr. Plokhy said.

Ukraine’s allure for American carpetbaggers, political consultants and adventurers has put it at the center of not just one but now two presidential elections in the United States and a host of second-tier scandals.

Before becoming Mr. Trump’s campaign manager before the 2016 election, Mr. Manafort made millions of dollars in Ukraine, working as an adviser to the country’s leadership out of an office in Kiev. Mr. Giuliani has repeatedly looked to the same city and a new set of Ukrainian leaders for dirt on Mr. Trump’s political foes ahead of the 2020 poll.

Paul Manafort’s political consulting and advising operation was run out of a first-floor office in central Kiev.CreditJoseph Sywenkyj for The New York Times

Yevhen Hlibovytskyi, a lecturer in philosophy at the Ukrainian Catholic University, said Ukraine’s pivotal position in geopolitical struggles had made Kiev, a picturesque capital of cobblestoned streets on the Dnepr River, into the 21st century’s equivalent of Cold War dens of intrigue like Vienna and Berlin or Casablanca during World War II.

“Ukraine is the country that hosts the Berlin Wall at the moment,” he said. “Ukraine is the country where the clash between the free and unfree world takes place. It’s only natural that some players will be seeking protection in the West,” sometimes by crossing palms with silver.

Put upon over the centuries by more powerful neighbors claiming their land, notably Russia, Poland and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Ukrainians have rarely had firm allies or even their own functioning state, a situation that has encouraged a highly transactional approach to foreign and also domestic affairs.

Unlike Russia, ruled since the time of Ivan the Terrible in the 16th century by a single, strong leader, usually a tyrant, Ukraine has always been a land of competing power centers. This has made it a fertile ground for democracy but also left it a highly fractured nation with an ever shifting constellation of feuding power-brokers who often look to foreigners for help in their internal struggles.

The whistle-blower’s complaint released on Thursday revealed how Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, played into this dynamic, focusing his efforts to get Joe Biden and his son investigated on a group of senior law-enforcement officials in Ukraine who had been locked for months in a bitter turf war with rival factions within the same state structure.

The officials Mr. Giuliani sought out in the name of fighting corruption were engaged in a long feud with Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau. The bureau, which has worked closely with the F.B.I. and was set up in 2014 with strong support from the Obama administration, is one of the few government agencies in Ukraine that Western diplomats in Kiev view as reasonably honest and competent.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who the whistle-blower’s complaint suggested was the target of President Trump’s pressuring of Ukraine.CreditMark Makela for The New York Times

Political survival in Ukraine has for centuries often hinged on finding a strong patron abroad. This sometimes led to disaster, most famously in the case of Ivan Mazepa, the Cossack leader of an embryonic state in eastern Ukraine in the 17th century. Initially an ally of Peter the Great of Russia, Mazepa, worried by the rise of powerful Cossack rivals, switched sides to ally with Russia’s great enemy at the time, Sweden, which he thought would offer protection. Instead, it led him to crushing defeat by Russia at the Battle of Poltava in 1709.

“Ukrainians all the time tried to form an alliance with the stronger side,” said Volodymyr Yermolenko, editor in chief at Ukraine World, an online magazine. Mazepa, despite his defeat, is revered as a national hero in Ukraine for trying, albeit with catastrophic consequences, to hold Russia at bay by finding a powerful patron in the West.

Mr. Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager and now a convicted fraudster, made a fortune in Ukraine by convincing its since toppled pro-Russian president, Viktor F. Yanukovych, that he could, for a hefty fee, help woo Europe and blacken the reputation of his main political rival, Yulia Timochenko, who had been thrown in jail.

Mr. Biden’s son Hunter earned at least $850,000 for serving on the board of a Cyprus-registered Ukrainian gas company that needed help in cleaning up its image after falling foul of anticorruption investigators in Ukraine. The company insisted it was the victim of internal score-settling.

Yevhen Mahda, director of the Institute of World Policy, a research group, compared Ukraine’s recruitment of people like Mr. Manafort to the medieval practice of paying the Catholic Church for “indulgences,” which were supposed to reduce God’s punishment for sinful behavior.

“A lot of Ukrainian politicians have this stereotype that you pay an influential figure in the West, from Europe or America, and they will cleanse you of your sins,” he said.

Former President Petro O. Poroshenko made relations with the Obama administration his top foreign relations priority and then invested heavily in wooing the Trump administration.CreditBrendan Hoffman/Getty Images

The pursuit of foreign protectors and patrons has been a common feature of Ukraine’s political and business elite, no matter what their own political leanings.

Ukraine’s former president Petro O. Poroshenko, elected after street protests toppled his pro-Russian predecessor in February 2014, made good relations with the Obama administration his top foreign relations priority and then invested heavily in wooing the Trump administration, despite having favored Mrs. Clinton in the 2016 election.

Mr. Poroshenko’s eagerness to win over Mr. Trump and his growing fears that political rivals would thwart his re-election opened the way for Mr. Giuliani to press Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Yuri Lutsenko, who has since been fired, to help Mr. Trump’s own re-election by investigating Joe Biden and his son.

How Mr. Poroshenko expected the Trump administration to help lift his sagging fortunes ahead of Ukraine’s presidential election, held in two rounds in March and April this year, is unclear. He got trounced anyway, losing emphatically to Mr. Zelensky, whose own officials quickly became the Trump team’s new targets in its drive to damage Mr. Biden.

While Democrats want Mr. Trump impeached over his dealings with Ukraine, the president and his allies have counterattacked with their own Ukraine-focused scandals. They have revived a debunked theory that the country colluded with the Clinton campaign to hurt Mr. Trump’s chances in 2016 and asserted, with little evidence, that Mr. Biden used his position as vice president to prevent Ukraine from investigating his son.

Ukrainians, jaded after years of watching their own leaders trade the power and privileges of office for personal financial or political gain, have mostly shrugged off what, for Mr. Trump, is possibly the most serious scandal to buffet the White House since Watergate toppled President Richard Nixon in 1974.

That a country few Americans paid much attention to in the past now commands center stage in Washington has stirred mostly bemusement in Ukraine. Those feelings are also tinged with a touch of pride that, after centuries in the shadow of Russia, its giant neighbor to the north, the nation is no longer seen as a backwater but a pivot around which the fate of the world’s most powerful country implausibly turns.

Pavlo Klimkin, Ukraine’s foreign minister under Mr. Poroshenko, said in a caustic Twitter message this week that going down in history “as the country that led to the impeachment of the U.S. president” was “not a very fun prospect.” But, he added, “Now everyone understands what we are capable of.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Whistle-Blower Shines Light on Super-Secret N.S.C. Computer System

WASHINGTON — When the White House first released the reconstructed transcript of President Trump’s July 25 phone conversation with the president of Ukraine, some former government officials noticed something peculiar about it.

The document lacked a standard marking in its upper right-hand corner, known as a “package number,” or the number that the National Security Council officials would assign to the transcript as they logged it for storage.

Instead, it bore the marking “[PkgNumberShort],” which former officials, including one who served in the Trump White House, said was an indication that the document had not been formally placed into the council’s carefully organized records system according to normal practice.

The full meaning of that became clear on Thursday only with the release of the complaint by an anonymous whistle-blower brought against Mr. Trump. The complaint explained that the transcript of the call between Mr. Trump and the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, was handled in a highly unusual manner, stored not in the National Security Council’s main computer system but in a far more secret and restricted system maintained by intelligence officials within the White House.

Westlake Legal Group trump-ukraine-timeline-promo-1569528528277-articleLarge-v2 Whistle-Blower Shines Light on Super-Secret N.S.C. Computer System Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Schiff, Adam B National Security Council Classified Information and State Secrets Biden, Joseph R Jr

Trump’s Efforts to Push Ukraine Toward a Biden Inquiry: A Timeline

A guide to the key figures and dates as President Trump and his allies pressured Ukraine to investigate his political opponents.

The whistle-blower, whom The New York Times has identified as a C.I.A. officer who was detailed to the White House, alleges that the National Security Council took an extra and previously unknown step to shield Mr. Trump’s call with Mr. Zelensky from all but a very small number of officials by assigning it to that system.

The rough transcript of Mr. Trump’s call with Mr. Zelensky was stored in a system operated by the agency’s intelligence directorate “solely for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive — rather than national security sensitive” information, the whistle-blower wrote. He added that White House officials told him it was “not the first time” Trump officials had confined a presidential transcript that way.

The more secure system is designed to hold delicate information about covert actions, intelligence programs and other highly classified activities, several former National Security Council officials said. Records of presidential calls with foreign leaders would be stored there only rarely, they said, in cases where those topics were discussed with close American partners like the leaders of Britain and Israel.

Accessing that special database requires enhanced desktop computer software not granted to all National Security Council officials. In extreme cases, agency aides must physically enter the offices of the intelligence directorate to read documents stored in the system. In the Obama White House, delicate documents were often hand delivered in a thick leather folder bearing the National Security Council seal and had to be returned.

The handling of the Ukraine call transcript has raised alarms among Democrats in Congress and former national security officials of both parties, including ones who served in the Trump administration. They agreed that nothing about the conversation appears to warrant placement in the extra-secure system.

“We need to look into the allegation that this may not be the only communication of a potentially corrupt character that was shielded by this classified information computer system abused for that purpose,” Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told reporters on Thursday at the Capitol.

Mr. Schiff and other Democrats say it appears that the White House sought to hide Mr. Trump’s effort to pressure Mr. Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a possible opponent in the 2020 presidential election, and his son Hunter Biden, as well as to pursue conspiracy theories that hold that Russia did not meddle in the 2016 presidential election.

“During my tenure, I had no knowledge of documents being moved out for political sensitivity,” said a former Trump White House official familiar with the system. “I don’t know the legality of what was done. It certainly feels unethical.” The official said that decisions to move documents to different levels of classification typically involve the National Security Council’s legal office.

All officials at the agency, whose size has ranged from about 100 to 150 staff members in recent years, have security clearances that allow them access to a shared classified computer network on which countless documents are stored, many of them categorized at relatively low levels of secrecy.

Stored on the less-classified network are transcripts of presidential calls with foreign leaders, which past White Houses have actively distributed widely among national security and foreign policy officials on secure email systems.

After embarrassing leaks in 2017, in which two transcripts of Mr. Trump’s calls with foreign leaders were published in the news media, the Trump White House cut the number of people to whom phone call records were distributed.

In the case of Mr. Trump’s call with Mr. Zelensky, White House officials appear to have concluded that it was not enough to limit distribution of the document, and made it impossible to read by all but a select few N.S.C. staff members. They did so by housing it in the far more restricted system, which requires software that most officials do not have.

Even those White House aides granted access to the more secret system must have specific permission to read individual documents there, which are known as Sensitive Compartmentalized Information and organized by code words. One former agency staff member said that in the most extreme cases, it might be necessary for an aide to physically visit the intelligence directorate to read certain documents.

Larry Pfeiffer, a former career intelligence official who served as White House Situation Room director during the Obama administration, said that the risk of political embarrassment is not adequate grounds for placing an N.S.C. document in a system designed for national security matters like the operation to kill Osama bin Laden.

“Clearly, someone made a decision that this conversation needed to be locked down,” Mr. Pfeiffer said. “You read this conversation and there is nothing ‘compartmented’ from an intelligence perspective.”

“Anyone with half a brain can read it and understand why they wanted to protect the distribution,” he added.

White House Tried to ‘Lock Down’ Ukraine Call Records, Whistle-Blower Says

Sept. 26, 2019

Westlake Legal Group merlin_161536872_e2f1a6cc-83ed-47eb-9f37-00f53ae437da-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Whistle-Blower Shines Light on Super-Secret N.S.C. Computer System Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Schiff, Adam B National Security Council Classified Information and State Secrets Biden, Joseph R Jr
Trump Attacks Whistle-Blower’s Sources and Alludes to Punishment for Spies

Sept. 26, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 26dc-trump-promo-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Whistle-Blower Shines Light on Super-Secret N.S.C. Computer System Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Schiff, Adam B National Security Council Classified Information and State Secrets Biden, Joseph R Jr
White House Knew of Whistle-Blower’s Allegations Soon After Trump’s Call With Ukraine Leader

Sept. 26, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 26dc-whistleblower-promo-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v2 Whistle-Blower Shines Light on Super-Secret N.S.C. Computer System Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Schiff, Adam B National Security Council Classified Information and State Secrets Biden, Joseph R Jr
Document: Read the Whistle-Blower Complaint

Sept. 26, 2019

Westlake Legal Group whistleblower-complaint-promo-1569502500532-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v6 Whistle-Blower Shines Light on Super-Secret N.S.C. Computer System Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Schiff, Adam B National Security Council Classified Information and State Secrets Biden, Joseph R Jr

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Whistle-Blower Shines Light on Potential ‘Abuse’ of Secret N.S.C. Computer System

WASHINGTON — When the White House first released the reconstructed transcript of President Trump’s July 25 phone conversation with the president of Ukraine, some former government officials noticed something peculiar about it.

The document lacked a standard marking in its upper right-hand corner, known as a “package number,” or the number that the National Security Council officials would assign to the transcript as they logged it for storage.

Instead, it bore the marking “[PkgNumberShort],” which former officials, including one who served in the Trump White House, said was an indication that the document had not been formally placed into the council’s carefully organized records system according to normal practice.

The full meaning of that became clear on Thursday only with the release of the complaint by an anonymous whistle-blower brought against Mr. Trump. The complaint explained that the transcript of the call between Mr. Trump and the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, was handled in a highly unusual manner, stored not in the National Security Council’s main computer system but in a far more secret and restricted system maintained by intelligence officials within the White House.

The whistle-blower, whom The New York Times has identified as a C.I.A. officer who was detailed to the White House, alleges that the National Security Council took an extra and previously unknown step to shield Mr. Trump’s call with Mr. Zelensky from all but a very small number of officials by assigning it to that system.

The rough transcript of Mr. Trump’s call with Mr. Zelensky was stored in a the system operated by the agency’s intelligence directorate “solely for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive — rather than national security sensitive” information, the whistle-blower wrote. He added that White House officials told him it was “not the first time” Trump officials had confined a presidential transcript that way.

The more secure system is designed to hold delicate information about covert actions, intelligence programs and other highly classified activities, several former National Security Council officials said. Records of presidential calls with foreign leaders would be stored there only rarely, they said, in cases where those topics were discussed with close American partners like the leaders of Britain and Israel.

Accessing that special database requires enhanced desktop computer software not granted to all National Security Council officials. In extreme cases, agency aides must physically enter the offices of the intelligence directorate to read documents stored in the system. In the Obama White House, delicate documents were often hand delivered in a thick leather folder bearing the National Security Council seal and had to be returned.

The handling of the Ukraine call transcript has raised alarms among Democrats in Congress and former national security officials of both parties, including ones who served in the Trump administration. They agreed that nothing about the conversation appears to warrant placement in the extra-secure system.

“We need to look into the allegation that this may not be the only communication of a potentially corrupt character that was shielded by this classified information computer system abused for that purpose,” Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told reporters on Thursday at the Capitol.

Mr. Schiff and other Democrats say it appears that the White House sought to hide Mr. Trump’s effort to pressure Mr. Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a possible opponent in the 2020 presidential election, and his son Hunter Biden, as well as to pursue conspiracy theories that hold that Russia did not meddle in the 2016 presidential election.

“During my tenure, I had no knowledge of documents being moved out for political sensitivity,” said a former Trump White House official familiar with the system. “I don’t know the legality of what was done. It certainly feels unethical.” The official said that decisions to move documents to different levels of classification typically involve the National Security Council’s legal office.

All officials at the agency, whose size has ranged from about 100 to 150 staff members in recent years, have security clearances that allow them access to a shared classified computer network on which countless documents are stored, many of them categorized at relatively low levels of secrecy.

Stored on the less-classified network are transcripts of presidential calls with foreign leaders, which past White Houses have actively distributed widely among national security and foreign policy officials on secure email systems.

After embarrassing leaks in 2017, in which two transcripts of Mr. Trump’s calls with foreign leaders were published in the news media, the Trump White House cut the number of people to whom phone call records were distributed.

In the case of Mr. Trump’s call with Mr. Zelensky, White House officials appear to have concluded that it was not enough to limit distribution of the document, and made it impossible to read by all but a select few N.S.C. staff members. They did so by housing it in the far more restricted system, which requires software that most officials do not have.

Even those White House aides granted access to the more secret system must have specific permission to read individual documents there, which are known as Sensitive Compartmentalized Information and organized by code words. One former agency staff member said that in the most extreme cases, it might be necessary for an aide to physically visit the intelligence directorate to read certain documents.

Larry Pfeiffer, a former career intelligence official who served as White House Situation Room director during the Obama administration, said that the risk of political embarrassment is not adequate grounds for placing an N.S.C. document in a system designed for national security matters like the operation to kill Osama bin Laden.

“Clearly, someone made a decision that this conversation needed to be locked down,” Mr. Pfeiffer said. “You read this conversation and there is nothing ‘compartmented’ from an intelligence perspective.”

“Anyone with half a brain can read it and understand why they wanted to protect the distribution,” he added.

White House Tried to ‘Lock Down’ Ukraine Call Records, Whistle-Blower Says

Sept. 26, 2019

Westlake Legal Group merlin_161536872_e2f1a6cc-83ed-47eb-9f37-00f53ae437da-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Whistle-Blower Shines Light on Potential ‘Abuse’ of Secret N.S.C. Computer System Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Schiff, Adam B National Security Council Classified Information and State Secrets Biden, Joseph R Jr
Trump Attacks Whistle-Blower’s Sources and Alludes to Punishment for Spies

Sept. 26, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 26dc-trump-promo-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Whistle-Blower Shines Light on Potential ‘Abuse’ of Secret N.S.C. Computer System Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Schiff, Adam B National Security Council Classified Information and State Secrets Biden, Joseph R Jr
White House Knew of Whistle-Blower’s Allegations Soon After Trump’s Call With Ukraine Leader

Sept. 26, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 26dc-whistleblower-promo-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v2 Whistle-Blower Shines Light on Potential ‘Abuse’ of Secret N.S.C. Computer System Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Schiff, Adam B National Security Council Classified Information and State Secrets Biden, Joseph R Jr
Document: Read the Whistle-Blower Complaint

Sept. 26, 2019

Westlake Legal Group whistleblower-complaint-promo-1569502500532-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v6 Whistle-Blower Shines Light on Potential ‘Abuse’ of Secret N.S.C. Computer System Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Schiff, Adam B National Security Council Classified Information and State Secrets Biden, Joseph R Jr

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Pelosi Says Barr Has ‘Gone Rogue’

WASHINGTON — Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday said that Attorney General William P. Barr had “gone rogue,” and questioned whether he could objectively make decisions about legal action in response to an explosive whistle-blower complaint accusing President Trump of misconduct, because Mr. Barr himself was mentioned in the document.

“I do think the attorney general has gone rogue,” Ms. Pelosi said on CNN. “He has for a long time now. And since he was mentioned, in all of this, it’s curious that he would be making decisions about how the complaint would be handled.”

Earlier Friday on MSNBC, Ms. Pelosi accused the White House trying to cover up a cover-up of the July 25 phone call between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine in which Mr. Trump pressured Mr. Zelensky to investigate a political opponent. The White House released a reconstructed transcript of the call this week, and on Thursday, the House Intelligence Committee released an unclassified version of the whistle-blower’s complaint.

Ms. Pelosi announced the start of an impeachment inquiry before the release of the reconstructed transcript and complaint.

The complaint did not describe any actions taken by Mr. Barr in efforts to persuade Ukraine to investigate matters that could benefit Mr. Trump politically. But it referenced Mr. Trump’s suggestion to Mr. Zelensky that he follow up with Mr. Barr about the investigations he was seeking. That raised concerns about whether he could oversee any subsequent inquiries into the allegations. And it underscored why most presidents aim to appoint an independent attorney general so there will not be questions about any conflict of interest.

In Ukraine Phone Call, Alarmed Aides Saw Trouble

Sept. 26, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 26dc-tictoc1-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Pelosi Says Barr Has ‘Gone Rogue’ Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Pelosi, Nancy Justice Department impeachment Ethics and Official Misconduct Conflicts of Interest Barr, William P
8 Takeaways From the Whistle-Blower Complaint

Sept. 26, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 26dc-takeaways-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v2 Pelosi Says Barr Has ‘Gone Rogue’ Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Pelosi, Nancy Justice Department impeachment Ethics and Official Misconduct Conflicts of Interest Barr, William P

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In Trump’s Ukraine Phone Call, Alarmed Aides Saw Trouble

WASHINGTON — No one bothered to put special limits on the number of people allowed to sit in the “listening room” in the White House to monitor the phone call because it was expected to be routine. By the time the call was over 30 minutes later, it quickly became clear that it was anything but.

Soon after President Trump put the phone down that summer day, the red flags began to go up. Rather than just one head of state offering another pro forma congratulations for recent elections, the call turned into a bid by Mr. Trump to press a Ukrainian leader in need of additional American aid to “do us a favor” and investigate Democrats.

The alarm among officials who heard the exchange led to an extraordinary effort to keep too many more people from learning about it. In the days to come, according to a whistle-blower complaint released on Thursday, White House officials embarked on a campaign to “lock down” the record of the call, removing it from the usual electronic file and hiding it away in a separate system normally used for classified information.

But word began to spread anyway, kicking off a succession of events that would eventually reveal details of the call to the public and has now put Mr. Trump at risk of being impeached by a Democrat-led House for abusing his power and betraying his office. The story of the past two months is one of a White House scrambling to keep secrets to protect a president willing to cross lines others would not, only to find the very government he frequently disparages expose him.

“The White House officials who told me this information were deeply disturbed by what had transpired in the phone call,” the whistle-blower, a C.I.A. official who once worked at the White House, wrote in his complaint, which was declassified and made public by the House Intelligence Committee.

“They told me,” he added, “that there was already a ‘discussion ongoing’ with White House lawyers about how to treat the call because of the likelihood, in the officials’ retelling, that they had witnessed the president abuse his office for personal gain.”

The president and his Republican allies rejected that characterization, saying he made no quid pro quo demands of President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, who himself told reporters in New York on Wednesday that he did not feel like he was being pushed.

Mr. Trump dismissed the complaint as part of “another Witch Hunt” against him and suggested whoever passed information to the whistle-blower was “close to a spy.”

But while the White House disparaged the whistle-blower’s complaint as full of secondhand information and media-reported events, it did not directly deny the sequence of events as outlined.

Moreover, other officials amplified the narrative on Thursday with details that were not in the complaint. For instance, they said, at one point an order was given to not distribute the reconstructed transcript of Mr. Trump’s call electronically, as would be typical. Instead, copies were printed out and hand delivered to a select group.

During the call on the morning of July 25, Mr. Zelensky talked about how much Ukraine had come to depend on the United States to help in its grinding, five-year war with Russian-sponsored separatists in the eastern part of the country. Without missing a beat, Mr. Trump then segued directly to his request for help in his own domestic politics.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_158446377_98d268bd-e1fd-4b36-8b69-6c5fcfc0c417-articleLarge In Trump’s Ukraine Phone Call, Alarmed Aides Saw Trouble Zelensky, Volodymyr United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

Mr. Trump at the White House on July 25, the day he spoke to the president of Ukraine.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

“I would like you to do us a favor, though,” he said. Ukraine, he said, should look into conspiracy theories about Democratic emails hacked during the 2016 election as well as the actions of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his younger son Hunter Biden, who was on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.

“Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible,” Mr. Trump said.

While the president saw nothing wrong with his request, officials who heard it quickly worried that it would be problematic at best and set about finding ways to keep the conversation hidden.

The electronic version of the reconstructed transcript produced from notes and voice recognition software was removed from the computer system where such documents are typically stored for distribution to cabinet-level officers, according to the complaint. Instead, it went into a classified system even though the call did not contain anything especially delicate in terms of national security information.

The actions were unusual in a normal national security process but not unheard-of in Mr. Trump’s administration. Since early in his tenure, when transcripts of his telephone calls with the leaders of Mexico and Australia leaked, Mr. Trump has been sensitive to preventing such records from getting out.

He has proved particularly attuned to guarding the confidentiality of other conversations involving the former Soviet Union. After his first meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia after taking office, Mr. Trump took his interpreter’s notes and ordered him not to disclose what he heard to anyone.

The specifics of Mr. Trump’s call with Mr. Zelensky would be one thing by itself, but it came during a period of other events that provide a context. For months leading up to the call, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, had been vigorously lobbying Ukrainian officials to investigate Democrats over the 2016 election and Mr. Biden’s dealings with the country.

Starting in mid-May, the whistle-blower wrote, he began hearing from other American officials “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” Kiev and the president.

Other people close to the situation have said that among those angry at Mr. Giuliani’s activities was John R. Bolton, who at the time was the president’s national security adviser. He left the administration this month amid disagreements with Mr. Trump over Russia as well as other issues.

But State Department officials, including Kurt D. Volker, the special envoy for Ukraine, and Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, were left to try to “contain the damage” by advising Ukrainians how to navigate Mr. Giuliani’s campaign, according to the complaint.

The Ukrainians, it added, were led to believe that arranging a meeting or phone call between their president and Mr. Trump would depend on whether Mr. Zelensky showed willingness to “play ball” on Mr. Giuliani’s wishes. Indeed, it said, Mr. Trump ordered Vice President Mike Pence to cancel plans to travel to Ukraine for Mr. Zelensky’s inauguration on May 20.

As Mr. Giuliani continued to seek action by the Ukrainians, the White House Office of Management and Budget informed national security agencies on July 18 that the president had ordered the suspension of $391 million in American security aid to Ukraine. In the days that followed, officials said they were unaware of the reason for the freeze.

Westlake Legal Group trump-ukraine-timeline-promo-1569528528277-articleLarge-v2 In Trump’s Ukraine Phone Call, Alarmed Aides Saw Trouble Zelensky, Volodymyr United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

Trump’s Efforts to Push Ukraine Toward a Biden Inquiry: A Timeline

A guide to the key figures and dates as President Trump and his allies pressured Ukraine to investigate his political opponents.

American help has been a vital tool for checking Russian aggression in Ukraine, with strong support in both parties. According to other officials, three rounds of interagency meetings were then held to try to “unstick” the blocked aid or at least figure out why it was being held up. When the White House still would not explain, some administration officials began enlisting staff members in the Senate to help.

The day after the agencies were notified about the aid freeze, Mr. Giuliani had breakfast with Mr. Volker about connecting with Ukrainian officials to seek information about the president’s Democratic opponents.

“Mr. Mayor — really enjoyed breakfast this morning,” Mr. Volker wrote in a text later that day that Mr. Giuliani posted on Twitter on Thursday. Mr. Volker offered to connect Mr. Giuliani with Andriy Yermak, an aide to Mr. Zelensky, according to the text.

Six days later came the phone call between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky. The White House readout released to the news media afterward made no mention of the discussion about Democrats, but a Ukrainian statement alluded to it by saying they discussed the completion of “investigation of corruption cases that have held back cooperation between Ukraine and the United States.”

The next day, according to the complaint, Mr. Volker and Mr. Sondland visited Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, and met with Mr. Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials, offering them guidance on how to respond to Mr. Trump’s demands. Mr. Giuliani then met in Spain with Mr. Yermak on Aug. 2.

A week later, on Aug. 9, Mr. Trump publicly embraced Mr. Zelensky, telling reporters that he planned to invite the Ukrainian to the White House. “He’s a very reasonable guy,” Mr. Trump said. “He wants to see peace in Ukraine, and I think he will be coming very soon, actually.”

In fact, Ukrainian officials had been trying to lock down a date for such a meeting for months but kept getting put off by White House aides. At this point, Ukrainian officials have said, they still did not know that Mr. Trump had suspended American aid, but they were hearing that it might be at risk.

All of this was taking place at a time of flux among key national security officials. Fiona Hill, the senior director for Europe at the National Security Council, was stepping down and had turned over her duties in July before the call. Three days after the call, Mr. Trump announced that Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, would be resigning.

The whistle-blower, employing an anonymous process, brought his concerns to the C.I.A.’s general counsel, Courtney Simmons Elwood, according to multiple people familiar with the events. As she sought to determine whether a reasonable basis existed for the accusation, she shared the matter with White House and Justice Department officials, meaning that the same institution he was complaining about had advance notice of the issue.

Concerned that his allegations were not being taken seriously, he filed a formal complaint on Aug. 12 with the office of Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence community, a process that granted whistle-blower protections under law. The complaint was addressed to Senator Richard M. Burr, Republican of North Carolina, and Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California, the chairmen of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, with the understanding that, under the law, it would be provided to them.

“In the course of my official duties, I have received information from multiple U.S. Government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 election,” the whistle-blower wrote.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine on Tuesday in New York at the United Nations.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

He acknowledged that he “was not a direct witness to most of the events described,” but said he had gathered it from multiple officials and was “deeply concerned” that the actions constituted a flagrant abuse or violation of law.

Ten days later, Senate staff members sought an explanation for the aid freeze during a briefing by State and Defense Department officials but received no further information. By this time, however, they had begun hearing reports that the delays might be tied to reports about Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine.

Mr. Atkinson forwarded the whistle-blower complaint on Aug. 26 to Joseph Maguire, who took over from Mr. Coats as the acting director of national intelligence, and declared that he had determined the complaint “appears credible.” Mr. Maguire brought the issue to the White House rather than Congress, arguing that he was obliged to do so, a decision that drew sharp criticism from Democrats.

The next day, Aug. 27, Mr. Bolton, then still the national security adviser, met with Mr. Zelensky in Kiev, the first personal visit by such a high-ranking member of the Trump administration since Mr. Zelensky’s inauguration. Mr. Bolton, who holds deeply skeptical views of Russia, assured the Ukrainians that the United States stood behind them. He also was preparing for what was expected to be a meeting a few days afterward in Warsaw between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky.

Ukrainian officials have said the aid holdup was not discussed during this visit and that they only learned about it afterward. The first report of the frozen money appeared in Politico on Aug. 28, the day after Mr. Bolton’s visit, and congressional aides were finally informed the next day.

As it happened, Mr. Trump canceled his trip to Warsaw to monitor Hurricane Dorian, which was bearing down on the East Coast. Instead, he sent Mr. Pence, who met with Mr. Zelensky.

Three House committees opened an inquiry on Sept. 9 to examine whether the aid to Ukraine was being held up for political reasons. On the same day, Mr. Atkinson, the inspector general, sent a letter to the intelligence panels informing them of the existence of the whistle-blower complaint but withholding details, including the subject.

Senators from both parties increased the pressure on the White House to release the frozen aid to Ukraine. On Sept. 11, Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, spoke to Mr. Trump about the matter and urged him to lift the freeze. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, told the White House that he would support a Democratic amendment meant to penalize the White House to prod the funds loose.

Administration officials informed senators that night that the money would be released, and the decision was announced the next day without any explanation for why it had been held up in the first place.

Mr. Trump has since given conflicting explanations. First, he said he held it up because of concerns about corruption in Ukraine and cited Mr. Biden in particular. Then he shifted the rationale to say he blocked it because he thought European countries should shoulder more of the burden.

Angry at not being informed about the topic of the whistle-blower complaint, Mr. Schiff issued a subpoena the next day to Mr. Maguire. The Washington Post reported on Sept. 18 that the complaint involved Mr. Trump, and The Post and The New York Times reported the next day that it involved Ukraine.

Mr. Schiff said on Thursday that the whole episode had not been in the interest of the United States. “It is instead the most consequential form of tragedy,” he said, “for it forces us to confront the remedy the founders provided for such a flagrant abuse of office, impeachment.”

Mr. Maguire captured the unique nature of the episode that has begun unveiling itself for the public to see. “I believe that everything here in this matter,” he said, “is totally unprecedented.”

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White House Knew of Whistle-Blower’s Allegations Soon After Trump’s Call With Ukraine Leader

WASHINGTON — The White House learned that a C.I.A. officer had lodged allegations against President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine even as the officer’s whistle-blower complaint was moving through a process meant to protect him against reprisals, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

The officer first shared information about potential abuse of power and a White House cover-up with the C.I.A.’s top lawyer through an anonymous process, some of the people said. The lawyer shared the officer’s concerns with White House and Justice Department officials, following policy. Around the same time, the officer separately filed the whistle-blower complaint.

The revelations provide new insight about how the officer’s allegations moved through the bureaucracy of government. The Trump administration’s handling of the accusations is certain to be scrutinized, particularly by lawmakers weighing the impeachment of the president.

Lawyers for the whistle-blower refused to confirm that he worked for the C.I.A. and said that publishing information about him was dangerous.

“Any decision to report any perceived identifying information of the whistle-blower is deeply concerning and reckless, as it can place the individual in harm’s way,” said Andrew Bakaj, his lead counsel. “The whistle-blower has a right to anonymity.”

Neither the White House nor the National Security Council, its foreign policy arm, responded to requests for comment. The C.I.A. referred questions to the inspector general for the intelligence agencies, Michael Atkinson, who declined to comment.

A spokeswoman for the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, said that protecting the whistle-blower was his office’s highest priority. “We must protect those who demonstrate the courage to report alleged wrongdoing, whether on the battlefield or in the workplace,” Mr. Maguire said at a hearing on Thursday, adding that he did not know the whistle-blower’s identity.

Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The New York Times, said The Times was right to publish information about the whistle-blower. “The president and some of his supporters have attacked the credibility of the whistle-blower, who has presented information that has touched off a landmark impeachment proceeding,” Mr. Baquet said. “The president himself has called the whistle-blower’s account a ‘political hack job.’”

Mr. Baquet added, “We decided to publish limited information about the whistle-blower — including the fact that he works for a nonpolitical agency and that his complaint is based on an intimate knowledge and understanding of the White House — because we wanted to provide information to readers that allows them to make their own judgments about whether or not he is credible. We also understand that the White House already knew he was a C.I.A. officer.”

Document: Read the Whistle-Blower Complaint

Sept. 26, 2019

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During his time at the White House, the whistle-blower became deeply unnerved about how he believed Mr. Trump was broadly seeking to pressure the Ukrainian government to conduct investigations that could benefit him politically. “Namely, he sought to pressure the Ukrainian leader to take actions to help the president’s 2020 re-election bid,” said the complaint, which was released on Thursday.

During a July 25 call, Mr. Trump asked President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate unsubstantiated allegations of corruption against former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his younger son and other matters that the president saw as potentially beneficial to him politically, according to a reconstructed transcript released by the White House on Wednesday.

The whistle-blower was detailed to work at the White House at one point, according to three people familiar with his identity, and has since returned to the C.I.A.

His complaint suggested he was an analyst by training and made clear he was steeped in details of American foreign policy toward Europe, demonstrating a sophisticated understanding of Ukrainian politics and at least some knowledge of the law.

The whistle-blower’s expertise will most likely add to lawmakers’ confidence about the merits of his complaint and tamp down allegations that he might have misunderstood what he learned about Mr. Trump. He did not listen directly to the July call, but some White House colleagues told him that they were concerned they had witnessed “the president abuse his office for personal gain,” according to the complaint.

The week after the call, the officer delivered a somewhat broad accusation anonymously to the C.I.A.’s general counsel, Courtney Simmons Elwood, according to multiple people familiar with the events. The initial allegations reported only that serious questions existed about a phone call between Mr. Trump and a foreign leader.

As required by government policy, Ms. Elwood had to assess whether a “reasonable basis” for the accusation existed. During the preliminary inquiry, Ms. Elwood and a career C.I.A. lawyer learned that multiple people had raised concerns about Mr. Trump’s call.

Ms. Elwood also called John A. Eisenberg, a deputy White House counsel and her counterpart at the National Security Council, according to three people familiar with the matter. He was already aware of vague concerns about the call.

Ms. Elwood, Mr. Eisenberg and their deputies spoke multiple times the following week. They decided that the accusations had a reasonable basis.

Mr. Eisenberg and Ms. Elwood both spoke on Aug. 14 to John Demers, the head of the Justice Department’s national security division, according to three people familiar with the discussion. Ms. Elwood did not pass on the name of the C.I.A. officer, which she did not know because his concerns were submitted anonymously.

The next day, Mr. Demers went to the White House to read the transcript of the call and assess whether to alert other senior law enforcement officials. The deputy attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen, and Brian A. Benczkowski, the head of the department’s criminal division, were soon looped in, according to two administration officials.

Department officials began to discuss the accusations and whether and how to follow up, and Attorney General William P. Barr learned of the allegations around that time, according to a person familiar with the matter. Although Mr. Barr was briefed, he did not oversee the discussions about how to proceed, the person said.

But as White House, C.I.A. and Justice Department officials were examining the accusations, the C.I.A. officer who had lodged them anonymously grew concerned after learning that Ms. Elwood had contacted the White House, according to two people familiar with the matter. While it is not clear how the officer became aware that Ms. Elwood had shared the information, he concluded that the C.I.A. was not taking his allegations seriously.

That played a factor in his decision to become a whistle-blower, they said. And about two weeks after first submitting his anonymous accusations, he decided to file a whistle-blower complaint to Mr. Atkinson, a step that offers special legal protections, unlike going to a general counsel.

Ms. Elwood and Mr. Eisenberg learned only later about the complaint, filed on Aug. 12, and did not know it was sent by the same officer who had sent the information anonymously to her.

At the end of August, the office of the director of national intelligence referred the allegations to the Justice Department as a possible criminal matter. Law enforcement officials ultimately declined to open an investigation.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_161468745_3dcf0523-f760-4ffd-9965-3fdf83781ff8-articleLarge White House Knew of Whistle-Blower’s Allegations Soon After Trump’s Call With Ukraine Leader United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Presidential Election of 2020 impeachment Espionage and Intelligence Services central intelligence agency

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine addressing the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.CreditBrittainy Newman/The New York Times

The revelation that the White House knew that a C.I.A. officer was expressing concerns before he filed a whistle-blower complaint demonstrates a weakness in a law meant to protect him from reprisals and shows that he was at risk of retaliation.

“I always advise whistle-blowers against going to general counsels because the general counsels have to report the matter,” said Dan Meyer, the former executive director of the intelligence community whistle-blowing program and managing partner at the law firm Tully Rinckey’s Washington office. “They are like tuna in a shark tank.”

Mr. Maguire defended the government’s handling of the complaint, noting the whistle-blower’s accusations had been delivered to Congress and the reconstructed transcript of Mr. Trump’s call had been released. “Everything here in this matter is totally unprecedented,” he said at the hearing.

Speaking to State Department employees at a closed-door meeting, Mr. Trump said the whistle-blower was “almost a spy,” according to a person briefed on what took place, and said he wanted to identify his sources, suggesting that punishment awaited them.

The whistle-blower has identified at least a half-dozen government officials — including several who work for the White House — who he believes can substantiate his claims. The inspector general has interviewed some of the people and found the whistle-blower’s claims credible.

Agents, officers and analysts from the military, intelligence and law enforcement communities routinely work at the White House. Often, they work on the National Security Council or help manage secure communications, like calls between the president and foreign leaders.

The C.I.A. officer did not work on the communications team that handles calls with foreign leaders, according to the people familiar with his identity. He learned about Mr. Trump’s conduct “in the course of official interagency business,” according to the complaint, which was dotted with footnotes about machinations in Kiev and reinforced with public comments by senior Ukrainian officials.

Officials regularly shared information to “inform policymaking and analysis,” the complaint said. It raises the prospect that the whistle-blower was not detailed to the White House either during the events in question or when he learned about them.

After the call, multiple officials told the whistle-blower that future talks between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky would depend on whether the Ukranians would “play ball” on the investigations.

White House Tried to ‘Lock Down’ Ukraine Call Records, Whistle-Blower Says

Sept. 26, 2019

Westlake Legal Group merlin_161536872_e2f1a6cc-83ed-47eb-9f37-00f53ae437da-threeByTwoSmallAt2X White House Knew of Whistle-Blower’s Allegations Soon After Trump’s Call With Ukraine Leader United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Presidential Election of 2020 impeachment Espionage and Intelligence Services central intelligence agency
Trump Attacks Whistle-Blower’s Sources and Alludes to Punishment for Spies

Sept. 26, 2019

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Document: Read the Whistle-Blower Complaint

Sept. 26, 2019

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8 Takeaways From the Whistle-Blower Complaint

Sept. 26, 2019

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In Ukraine Phone Call, Alarmed Aides Saw Trouble

WASHINGTON — No one bothered to put special limits on the number of people allowed to sit in the “listening room” in the White House to monitor the phone call because it was expected to be routine. By the time the call was over 30 minutes later, it quickly became clear that it was anything but.

Soon after President Trump put the phone down that summer day, the red flags began to go up. Rather than just one head of state offering another pro forma congratulations for recent elections, the call turned into a bid by Mr. Trump to press a Ukrainian leader in need of additional American aid to “do us a favor” and investigate Democrats.

The alarm among officials who heard the exchange led to an extraordinary effort to keep too many more people from learning about it. In the days to come, according to a whistle-blower complaint released on Thursday, White House officials embarked on a campaign to “lock down” the record of the call, removing it from the usual electronic file and hiding it away in a separate system normally used for classified information.

But word began to spread anyway, kicking off a succession of events that would eventually reveal details of the call to the public and has now put Mr. Trump at risk of being impeached by a Democrat-led House for abusing his power and betraying his office. The story of the past two months is one of a White House scrambling to keep secrets to protect a president willing to cross lines others would not, only to find the very government he frequently disparages expose him.

“The White House officials who told me this information were deeply disturbed by what had transpired in the phone call,” the whistle-blower, a C.I.A. official who once worked at the White House, wrote in his complaint, which was declassified and made public by the House Intelligence Committee.

“They told me,” he added, “that there was already a ‘discussion ongoing’ with White House lawyers about how to treat the call because of the likelihood, in the officials’ retelling, that they had witnessed the president abuse his office for personal gain.”

The president and his Republican allies rejected that characterization, saying he made no quid-pro-quo demands of President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, who himself told reporters in New York on Wednesday that he did not feel like he was being pushed.

Mr. Trump dismissed the complaint as part of “another Witch Hunt” against him and suggested the whistle-blower was “close to a spy.”

But while the White House disparaged the whistle-blower’s complaint as full of secondhand information and media-reported events, it did not directly deny the sequence of events as outlined.

Moreover, other officials amplified the narrative on Thursday with details that were not in the complaint. For instance, they said, at one point an order was given to not distribute the reconstructed transcript of Mr. Trump’s call electronically, as would be typical. Instead, copies were printed out and hand delivered to a select group.

During the call on the morning of July 25, Mr. Zelensky talked about how much Ukraine had come to depend on the United States to help in its grinding, five-year war with Russian-sponsored separatists in the eastern part of the country. Without missing a beat, Mr. Trump then segued directly to his request for help in his own domestic politics.

“I would like you to do us a favor, though,” he said. Ukraine, he said, should look into conspiracy theories about Democratic emails hacked during the 2016 election as well as the actions of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his younger son Hunter Biden, who was on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.

“Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible,” Mr. Trump said.

While the president saw nothing wrong with his request, officials who heard it quickly worried that it would be problematic at best and set about finding ways to keep the conversation hidden.

The electronic version of the reconstructed transcript produced from notes and voice recognition software was removed from the computer system where such documents are typically stored for distribution to cabinet-level officers, according to the complaint. Instead, it went into a classified system even though the call did not contain anything especially sensitive in terms of national security information.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_158446377_98d268bd-e1fd-4b36-8b69-6c5fcfc0c417-articleLarge In Ukraine Phone Call, Alarmed Aides Saw Trouble Zelensky, Volodymyr United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

President Trump at the White House on July 25, the day he spoke to the president of Ukraine.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

The actions were unusual in a normal national security process but not unheard-of in Mr. Trump’s administration. Since early in his tenure, when transcripts of his telephone calls with the leaders of Mexico and Australia leaked, Mr. Trump has been sensitive to preventing such records from getting out.

He has proved particularly attuned to guarding the confidentiality of other conversations involving the former Soviet Union. After his first meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia after taking office, Mr. Trump took his interpreter’s notes and ordered him not to disclose what he heard to anyone.

The specifics of Mr. Trump’s call with Mr. Zelensky would be one thing by itself, but it came during a period of other events that provide a context. For months leading up to the call, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, had been vigorously lobbying Ukrainian officials to investigate Democrats over the 2016 election and Mr. Biden’s dealings with the country.

Starting in mid-May, the whistle-blower wrote, he began hearing from other American officials “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” Kiev and the president.

Other people close to the situation have said that among those angry at Mr. Giuliani’s activities was John R. Bolton, who was then the president’s national security adviser before leaving this month amid disagreements with Mr. Trump over Russia as well as other issues.

But State Department officials, including Kurt D. Volker, the special envoy for Ukraine, and Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, were left to try to “contain the damage” by advising Ukrainians how to navigate Mr. Giuliani’s campaign, according to the complaint.

The Ukrainians, it added, were led to believe that arranging a meeting or phone call between their president and Mr. Trump would depend on whether Mr. Zelensky showed willingness to “play ball” on Mr. Giuliani’s wishes. Indeed, it said, Mr. Trump ordered Vice President Mike Pence to cancel plans to travel to Ukraine for Mr. Zelensky’s inauguration on May 20.

As Mr. Giuliani continued to seek action by the Ukrainians, the White House Office of Management and Budget informed national security agencies on July 18 that the president had ordered the suspension of $391 million in American security aid to Ukraine. In the days that followed, officials said they were unaware of the reason for the freeze.

American help has been a vital tool for checking Russian aggression in Ukraine, with strong support in both parties. According to other officials, three rounds of interagency meetings were then held to try to “unstick” the blocked aid or at least figure out why it was being held up. When the White House still would not explain, some administration officials began enlisting staff members in the Senate to help.

The day after the agencies were notified about the aid freeze, Mr. Giuliani had breakfast with Mr. Volker about connecting with Ukrainian officials to seek information about the president’s Democratic opponents.

“Mr. Mayor — really enjoyed breakfast this morning,” Mr. Volker wrote in a text later that day that Mr. Giuliani posted on Twitter on Thursday. Mr. Volker offered to connect Mr. Giuliani with Andriy Yermak, an aide to Mr. Zelensky, according to the text message.

Six days later came the phone call between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky. The White House readout released to the news media afterward made no mention of the discussion about Democrats, but a Ukrainian statement alluded to it by saying they discussed the completion of “investigation of corruption cases that have held back cooperation between Ukraine and the United States.”

The next day, according to the complaint, Mr. Volker and Mr. Sondland visited Kiev and met with Mr. Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials, offering them guidance on how to respond to Mr. Trump’s demands. Mr. Giuliani then met in Spain with Mr. Yermak on Aug. 2.

A week later, on Aug. 9, Mr. Trump publicly embraced Mr. Zelensky, telling reporters that he planned to invite the Ukrainian to the White House. “He’s a very reasonable guy,” Mr. Trump said. “He wants to see peace in Ukraine, and I think he will be coming very soon, actually.”

In fact, Ukrainian officials had been trying to lock down a date for such a meeting for months but kept getting put off by White House aides. At this point, Ukrainian officials have said, they still did not know that Mr. Trump had suspended American aid but they were hearing that it might be at risk.

All of this was taking place at a time of flux among key national security officials. Fiona Hill, the senior director for Europe at the National Security Council, was stepping down and had turned over her duties in July before the call. Three days after the call, Mr. Trump announced that Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, would be resigning.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

The whistle-blower, employing an anonymous process, brought his concerns to the C.I.A.’s general counsel, Courtney Simmons Ellwood, according to multiple people familiar with the events. As she sought to determine whether a reasonable basis existed for the accusation, she shared the matter with White House and Justice Department officials, meaning that the same institution he was complaining about had advance notice of the issue.

Concerned that his allegations were not being taken seriously, he filed a formal complaint on Aug. 12 with the office of Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence community, a process that granted whistle-blower protections under law. The complaint was addressed to Senator Richard M. Burr, Republican of North Carolina, and Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California, the chairmen of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, with the understanding that, under the law, it would be provided to them.

“In the course of my official duties, I have received information from multiple U.S. Government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 election,” the whistle-blower wrote.

He acknowledged that he “was not a direct witness to most of the events described” but said he had gathered it from multiple officials and was “deeply concerned” that the actions constituted a flagrant abuse or violation of law.

Ten days later, Senate staff members sought an explanation for the aid freeze during a briefing by State and Defense Department officials but received no further information. By this time, however, they had begun hearing reports that the delays might be tied to reports about Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine.

Mr. Atkinson forwarded the whistle-blower complaint on Aug. 26 to Joseph Maguire, who took over from Mr. Coats as the acting director of national intelligence, and declared that he had determined the complaint “appears credible.” Mr. Maguire brought the issue to the White House rather than Congress, arguing that he was obliged to do so, a decision that drew sharp criticism from Democrats.

The next day, Aug. 27, Mr. Bolton, then still the national security adviser, met with Mr. Zelensky in Kiev, the first personal visit by such a high-ranking member of the administration since Mr. Zelensky’s inauguration. Mr. Bolton, who holds deeply skeptical views of Russia, assured the Ukrainians that the United States stood behind them. He also was preparing for what was expected to be a meeting a few days afterward in Warsaw between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky.

Ukrainian officials have said the aid holdup was not discussed during this visit and that they only learned about it afterward. The first report of the frozen money appeared in Politico on Aug. 28, the day after Mr. Bolton’s visit, and congressional aides were finally informed the next day.

As it happened, Mr. Trump canceled his trip to Warsaw to monitor Hurricane Dorian, which was bearing down on the East Coast. Instead, he sent Mr. Pence, who met with Mr. Zelensky.

Three House committees opened an inquiry on Sept. 9 to examine whether the aid to Ukraine was being held up for political reasons. On the same day, Mr. Atkinson, the inspector general, sent a letter to the intelligence committees informing them of the existence of the whistle-blower complaint but withholding details, including the subject.

Senators from both parties increased the pressure on the White House to release the frozen aid to Ukraine. On Sept. 11, Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, spoke to Mr. Trump about the matter and urged him to lift the freeze. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, informed the White House that he would support a Democratic amendment meant to penalize the White House to prod the funds loose.

Administration officials informed senators that night that the money would be released and the decision was announced the next day without any explanation for why it had been held up in the first place.

Mr. Trump has since given conflicting explanations. First, he said he held it up because of concerns about corruption in Ukraine and cited Mr. Biden in particular. Then he shifted the rationale to say he blocked it because he thought European countries should shoulder more of the burden.

Angry at not being informed about the topic of the whistle-blower complaint, Mr. Schiff issued a subpoena the next day to Mr. Maguire. The Washington Post reported on Sept. 18 that the complaint involved Mr. Trump, and The Post and The New York Times reported the next day that it involved Ukraine.

Mr. Schiff said on Thursday that the whole episode had not been in the interest of the United States. “It is instead the most consequential form of tragedy,” he said, “for it forces us to confront the remedy the founders provided for such a flagrant abuse of office, impeachment.”

Mr. Maguire captured the unique nature of the episode that has begun unveiling itself for the public to see. “I believe that everything here in this matter,” he said, “is totally unprecedented.”

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In a Routine Phone Call, Alarmed Aides Saw Trouble

WASHINGTON — No one bothered to put special limits on the number of people allowed to sit in the White House “listening room” to monitor the phone call because it was expected to be routine. By the time the call was over 30 minutes later, it quickly became clear that it was anything but.

Soon after President Trump put the phone down that summer day, the red flags began to go up. Rather than just one head of state offering another pro forma congratulations for recent elections, the call turned into a bid by Mr. Trump to press a Ukrainian leader in need of additional American aid to “do us a favor” and investigate Democrats.

The alarm among officials who heard the exchange led to an extraordinary effort to keep too many more people from learning about it. In the days to come, according to a whistle-blower complaint released on Thursday, White House officials embarked on a campaign to “lock down” the record of the call, removing it from the usual electronic file and hiding it away in a separate system normally used for classified information.

But word began to spread anyway, kicking off a succession of events that would eventually reveal details of the call to the public and has now put Mr. Trump at risk of being impeached by a Democrat-led House for abusing his power and betraying his office. The story of the past two months is one of a White House scrambling to keep secrets to protect a president willing to cross lines others would not, only to find the very government he frequently disparages expose him.

“The White House officials who told me this information were deeply disturbed by what had transpired in the phone call,” the whistle-blower, a C.I.A. official who once worked at the White House, wrote in his complaint, which was declassified and made public by the House Intelligence Committee.

“They told me,” he added, “that there was already a ‘discussion ongoing’ with White House lawyers about how to treat the call because of the likelihood, in the officials’ retelling, that they had witnessed the president abuse his office for personal gain.”

The president and his Republican allies rejected that characterization, saying he made no quid-pro-quo demands of President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, who himself told reporters in New York on Wednesday that he did not feel like he was being pushed.

Mr. Trump dismissed the complaint as part of “another Witch Hunt” against him and suggested the whistle-blower was “close to a spy.”

But while the White House disparaged the whistle-blower’s complaint as full of secondhand information and media-reported events, it did not directly deny the sequence of events as outlined.

Moreover, other officials amplified the narrative on Thursday with details that were not in the complaint. For instance, they said, at one point an order was given to not distribute the reconstructed transcript of Mr. Trump’s call electronically, as would be typical. Instead, copies were printed out and hand delivered to a select group.

During the call on the morning of July 25, Mr. Zelensky talked about how much Ukraine had come to depend on the United States to help in its grinding, five-year war with Russian-sponsored separatists in the eastern part of the country. Without missing a beat, Mr. Trump then segued directly to his request for help in his own domestic politics.

“I would like you to do us a favor, though,” he said. Ukraine, he said, should look into conspiracy theories about Democratic emails hacked during the 2016 election as well as the actions of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his younger son Hunter Biden, who was on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.

“Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible,” Mr. Trump said.

The electronic version of the reconstructed transcript produced from notes and voice recognition software was removed from the computer system where such documents are typically stored for distribution to cabinet-level officers, according to the complaint. Instead, it went into a classified system even though the call did not contain anything especially sensitive in terms of national security information.

The actions were unusual in a normal national security process but not unheard-of in Mr. Trump’s administration. Since early in his tenure, when transcripts of his telephone calls with the leaders of Mexico and Australia leaked, Mr. Trump has been sensitive to preventing such records from getting out.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_158446377_98d268bd-e1fd-4b36-8b69-6c5fcfc0c417-articleLarge In a Routine Phone Call, Alarmed Aides Saw Trouble Zelensky, Volodymyr United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

President Trump at the White House on July 25, the day he spoke to the president of Ukraine.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

He has proved particularly attuned to guarding the confidentiality of other conversations involving the former Soviet Union. After his first meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia after taking office, Mr. Trump took his interpreter’s notes and ordered him not to disclose what he heard to anyone.

The specifics of Mr. Trump’s call with Mr. Zelensky would be one thing by itself, but it came during a period of other events that provide a context. For months leading up to the call, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, had been lobbying Ukrainian officials to investigate Democrats over the 2016 election and Mr. Biden’s dealings with the country.

Starting in mid-May, the whistle-blower wrote, he began hearing from other American officials “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” Kiev and the president.

Other people close to the situation have said that among those angry at Mr. Giuliani’s activities was John R. Bolton, who was then the president’s national security adviser before leaving this month amid disagreements with Mr. Trump over Russia as well as other issues.

But State Department officials, including Kurt D. Volker, the special envoy for Ukraine, and Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, were left to try to “contain the damage” by advising Ukrainians how to navigate Mr. Giuliani’s campaign, according to the complaint.

The Ukrainians, it added, were led to believe that arranging a meeting or phone call between Mr. Zelensky and Mr. Trump would depend on whether Mr. Zelensky showed willingness to “play ball” on Mr. Giuliani’s wishes. Indeed, it said, Mr. Trump ordered Vice President Mike Pence to cancel plans to travel to Ukraine for Mr. Zelensky’s inauguration on May 20.

As Mr. Giuliani continued to seek action by the Ukrainians, the White House Office of Management and Budget informed national security agencies on July 18 that the president had ordered the suspension of $391 million in American security aid to Ukraine. In the days that followed, officials said they were unaware of the reason for the freeze.

According to other officials, three rounds of interagency meetings were then held to try to “unstick” the blocked aid or at least figure out why it was behind held up. When the White House continued to not explain, some administration officials began enlisting staff members in the Senate to help.

The day after the agencies were notified about the aid freeze, Mr. Giuliani had breakfast with Mr. Volker about connecting with Ukrainian officials.

“Mr. Mayor — really enjoyed breakfast this morning,” Mr. Volker wrote in a text later that day that Mr. Giuliani posted on Twitter on Thursday. Mr. Volker offered to connect Mr. Giuliani with Andriy Yermak, an aide to Mr. Zelensky, according to the text message.

Six days later came the phone call between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky. The White House readout released to the news media afterward made no mention of the discussion about Democrats, but a Ukrainian statement alluded to it by saying they discussed the completion of “investigation of corruption cases that have held back cooperation between Ukraine and the United States.”

The next day, according to the complaint, Mr. Volker and Mr. Sondland visited Kiev and met with Mr. Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials, offering them guidance on how to respond to Mr. Trump’s demands. Mr. Giuliani then met in Spain with Mr. Yermak on Aug. 2.

A week later, on Aug. 9, Mr. Trump publicly embraced Mr. Zelensky, telling reporters that he planned to invite the Ukrainian to the White House. “He’s a very reasonable guy,” Mr. Trump said. “He wants to see peace in Ukraine, and I think he will be coming very soon, actually.”

In fact, Ukrainian officials had been trying to lock down a date for such a meeting for months but kept getting put off by White House aides. At this point, Ukrainian officials have said, they still did not know that Mr. Trump had suspended American aid but they were hearing that it might be at risk.

All of this was taking place at a time of flux among key national security officials. Fiona Hill, the senior director for Europe at the National Security Council, was stepping down and had turned over her duties in July before the call. Three days after the call, Mr. Trump announced that Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, would be resigning.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

On Aug. 12, the whistle-blower filed his complaint with the office of Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence community. The complaint was addressed to Senator Richard M. Burr, Republican of North Carolina, and Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California, the chairmen of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, with the understanding that, under the law, it would be provided to them.

“In the course of my official duties, I have received information from multiple U.S. Government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 election,” the whistle-blower wrote.

He acknowledged that he “was not a direct witness to most of the events described” but said he had gathered it from multiple officials and was “deeply concerned” that the actions constituted a flagrant abuse or violation of law.

Ten days later, Senate staff members sought an explanation for the aid freeze during a briefing by State and Defense Department officials but received no further information. By this time, however, they had begun hearing reports that the delays might be tied to reports about Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine.

Mr. Atkinson forwarded the whistle-blower complaint on Aug. 26 to Joseph Maguire, who took over from Mr. Coats as the acting director of national intelligence, and declared that he had determined the complaint “appears credible.” Mr. Maguire brought the issue to the White House rather than Congress, arguing that he was obliged to do so, a decision that drew sharp criticism from Democrats.

The next day, Aug. 27, Mr. Bolton, then still the national security adviser, met with Mr. Zelensky in Kiev, the first personal visit by such a high-ranking member of the administration since Mr. Zelensky’s inauguration. Mr. Bolton, who holds deeply skeptical views of Russia, assured the Ukrainians that the United States stood behind them. He also was preparing for what was expected to be a meeting a few days afterward in Warsaw between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky.

Ukrainian officials have said the aid holdup was not discussed during this visit and that they only learned about it afterward. The first report of the frozen money appeared in Politico on Aug. 28, the day after Mr. Bolton’s visit and congressional aides were finally informed the next day.

As it happened, Mr. Trump canceled his trip to Warsaw to monitor Hurricane Dorian, which was bearing down on the East Coast. Instead, he sent Mr. Pence, who met with Mr. Zelensky.

Three House committees opened an inquiry on Sept. 9 to examine whether the aid to Ukraine was being held up for political reasons. On the same day, Mr. Atkinson, the inspector general, sent a letter to the intelligence committees informing them of the existence of the whistle-blower complaint but withholding details, including the subject.

Senators from both parties increased the pressure on the White House to release the frozen aid to Ukraine. On Sept. 11, Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, spoke to Mr. Trump about the matter and urged him to lift the freeze. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, informed the White House that he would support a Democratic amendment meant to penalize the White House to prod the funds loose.

Administration officials informed senators that night that the money will be released and the decision was announced the next day without any explanation for why it had been held up in the first place.

Mr. Trump has since given conflicting explanations. First, he said he held it up because of concerns about corruption in Ukraine and cited Mr. Biden in particular. Then he shifted the rationale to say he blocked it because he thought European countries should shoulder more of the burden.

Angry at not being informed about the topic of the whistle-blower complaint, Mr. Schiff issued a subpoena the next day to Mr. Maguire. The Washington Post reported on Sept. 18 that the complaint involved Mr. Trump, and The Post and The New York Times reported the next day that it involved Ukraine.

Mr. Schiff said on Thursday that the whole episode had not been in the interest of the United States. “It is instead the most consequential form of tragedy,” he said, “for it forces us to confront the remedy the founders provided for such a flagrant abuse of office, impeachment.”

The whistle-blower is expected to testify to Congress soon.

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Trump Said Ukraine Envoy Would ‘Go Through Some Things.’ She Has Already.

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s words about Marie L. Yovanovitch, his former ambassador to Ukraine, were ominous. In a telephone conversation that has set off a political crisis for Mr. Trump, he told Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, that she was “bad news.”

“She’s going to go through some things,” he added.

In fact, she already has gone through quite a bit. Over the past several months, Ms. Yovanovitch, a decorated 33-year veteran of the State Department, has been vilified in the right-wing news media, denounced by the president’s eldest son as a “joker,” called a Democratic stooge by the president’s personal lawyer and then abruptly recalled from Kiev this May, months ahead of schedule.

Her supposed sin, never backed up by evidence, was that she had shown disloyalty to Mr. Trump, disparaging him behind his back. Her friends, who say her professionalism and history of diplomatic service make that highly unlikely, have another theory: She had turned into collateral damage in efforts by Mr. Trump and Rudolph W. Giuliani, his personal lawyer, to damage the reputation of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., perhaps Mr. Trump’s most prominent Democratic rival in 2020.

Among the apparent strikes against her: A former Ukrainian prosecutor claimed in an interview with The New York Times that Ms. Yovanovitch had blocked his team from getting visas to the United States to deliver damaging information about Mr. Biden and his son Hunter to the F.B.I.

In targeting Ms. Yovanovitch, former colleagues say, Mr. Trump and his allies underscored how profoundly suspicious they are of the career government professionals around them, leading the president to bypass the usual procedures and staff while outsourcing aspects of foreign policy to Mr. Giuliani and others.

Although largely unknown to the outside world, Ms. Yovanovitch has now become a sort of heroine to the State Department’s career staff — as well as a cautionary tale to many longtime American diplomats and national security officials. To them, she symbolizes an atmosphere in which dissenting, or even insisting on established procedures, can get them marked as outsiders, shut out of meetings, excluded from policymaking and in the end publicly hung out to dry as enemies of the administration.

At a news briefing on Thursday in New York, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refused to answer questions shouted by reporters about why Ms. Yovanovitch had been suddenly recalled to Washington.

Westlake Legal Group trump-phone-transcript-ukraine-promo-1569369870401-articleLarge-v3 Trump Said Ukraine Envoy Would ‘Go Through Some Things.’ She Has Already. Zelensky, Volodymyr Yovanovitch, Marie L United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department Giuliani, Rudolph W Diplomatic Service, Embassies and Consulates Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter Appointments and Executive Changes

Full Document: Trump’s Call With the Ukrainian President

Trump is accused of pressing Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.

The American Academy of Diplomacy reacted by demanding that the State Department protect Ms. Yovanovitch from reprisals, calling the “threatening tone” of Mr. Trump’s remarks about her “very troubling.” The American Foreign Service Association, which represents State Department employees, urged that the American diplomatic corps “not be dragged into partisan political battles.”

Now serving as a diplomat in residence at Georgetown University, Ms. Yovanovitch did not respond to requests for an interview.

While the abrupt end to her ambassadorship was widely seen as punitive, one former colleague said that it was possibly motivated by a genuine concern for her, and that State Department officials decided it was safer to bring her home.

Nonetheless, the level of suspicion and paranoia inside the foreign policy and national security agencies, already high since Mr. Trump’s arrival, has only risen since Ms. Yovanovitch’s saga has surfaced.

“It’s more than crazy — it’s ugly, it’s threatening,” said Daniel Fried, a former ambassador and 40-year State Department official who has long dealt with Russian and Ukrainian issues and retired at the beginning of the Trump administration. “Masha Yovanovitch is known as a straight arrow, disciplined, professional.”

“If you take out Masha Yovanovitch, you send the message to every ambassador that we will not have your back,” he said.

Ms. Yovanovitch was born in Canada, moved to Connecticut at age 3 and became a naturalized American citizen at 18. In congressional testimony, she said her father fled the Soviet Union and then the Nazis; her mother grew up “stateless” in Germany. She said that background gave her a special empathy for those who had endured poverty, war and displacement.

Westlake Legal Group trump-ukraine-timeline-promo-1569528528277-articleLarge-v2 Trump Said Ukraine Envoy Would ‘Go Through Some Things.’ She Has Already. Zelensky, Volodymyr Yovanovitch, Marie L United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department Giuliani, Rudolph W Diplomatic Service, Embassies and Consulates Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter Appointments and Executive Changes

Trump’s Efforts to Push Ukraine Toward a Biden Inquiry: A Timeline

A guide to the key figures and dates as President Trump and his allies pressured Ukraine to investigate his political opponents.

She grew up speaking Russian, graduated from Princeton and joined the State Department six years later. Her specialty was Eurasia.

President George W. Bush appointed her ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, then to Armenia. President Barack Obama named her ambassador to Ukraine in 2016. There, she spoke out strongly against corruption in the Ukrainian government and pushed for a variety of reforms, including ending the immunity enjoyed by legislators accused of crimes.

John E. Herbst, a former ambassador to Ukraine, described her as a highly skilled and meticulous diplomat who would never share her personal political opinions with foreign officials — or even with her diplomatic colleagues. She was careful not to overstep her authority, he said.

“Masha is someone who is always very attentive to propriety and to instructions, and by nature, cautious,” he said. “She is uniformly held in high regard.”

The campaign against her by Trump allies began more than a year ago, with a letter from Pete Sessions, a Texas Republican member of the House at the time who lost his re-election bid in November. He wrote to Mr. Pompeo that Ms. Yovanovitch should be fired for privately and repeatedly expressing “disdain” for the current administration.

Then, this spring, Joseph E. diGenova, a former federal prosecutor and an ally of Mr. Trump’s, alleged on a Fox News broadcast that the ambassador had disparaged Mr. Trump to Ukrainian officials, telling them “not to listen to him or obey his policy because he was going to be impeached.”

Two days later, Donald Trump Jr. posted a link on social media to a conservative website that described her as an anti-Trump Obama loyalist, and one Mr. Trump had been trying to fire for a year. He said his father’s administration should have “less of these jokers as ambassadors.”

Westlake Legal Group whistleblower-complaint-promo-1569502500532-articleLarge-v5 Trump Said Ukraine Envoy Would ‘Go Through Some Things.’ She Has Already. Zelensky, Volodymyr Yovanovitch, Marie L United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department Giuliani, Rudolph W Diplomatic Service, Embassies and Consulates Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter Appointments and Executive Changes

Document: Read the Whistle-Blower Complaint

The complaint filed by an intelligence officer about President Trump’s interactions with the leader of Ukraine.

About the same time, a Ukrainian-American named Lev Parnas, who has worked with Mr. Giuliani, told people in Republican circles in Washington of tape recordings of conversations in which Ms. Yovanovitch had supposedly disparaged the president, according to people he spoke with. The existence of those recordings has not been substantiated.

Her troubles mounted as Mr. Giuliani stepped up pressure on the Ukrainian government to open an investigation into whether Mr. Biden, as vice-president, had forced out a top prosecutor in order to shut down an inquiry that might have implicated Mr. Biden’s son Hunter.

No evidence has emerged that Mr. Biden was actually trying to protect his son; in fact, many Western leaders viewed Ukraine’s top prosecutor as corrupt and were pressuring Ukraine’s leader to fire him.

But one former Ukrainian prosecutor, Kostiantyn H. Kulyk, told The New York Times in an interview in April that Ms. Yovanovitch had thwarted his efforts to meet with the F.B.I. to deliver damaging information about the Bidens by denying him a visa.

Mr. Giuliani also accused her of being a pawn of the New York financier George Soros, a major Democratic donor who backed a nonprofit anti-corruption group that worked in Ukraine. “The ambassador there is in the pocket of Soros,” he said in a March interview with The New York Times.

The critiques of Ms. Yovanovitch clearly reached Mr. Trump’s ears. In the July 25 phone call, Mr. Zelensky, Ukraine’s newly elected president, told Mr. Trump: “You were the first one who told me that she was a bad ambassador,” adding that “I agree with you 100 percent.”

The premature end to Ms. Yovanovitch’s tenure in Kiev was all the more remarkable because Ukraine’s government had just turned over with the surprise election of Mr. Zelensky in April.

“She’s capable and she’s tough, and why would you want to lose your ambassador right at the moment when there is a big change in the government?” asked Evelyn Farkas, a former deputy assistant defense secretary for the region that includes Ukraine.

Mr. Trump has not yet chosen a replacement.

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Trump Impeachment Inquiry Updates: The Complaint, the Testimony, the Reaction

Here’s what you need to know:

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Westlake Legal Group 26dc-complaint1-sub-videoSixteenByNine3000 Trump Impeachment Inquiry Updates: The Complaint, the Testimony, the Reaction Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate Committee on Intelligence Senate Republican Party Office of the Director of National Intelligence Maguire, Joseph (1952- ) Justice Department House of Representatives House Committee on Intelligence Giuliani, Rudolph W Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr Barr, William P Atkinson, Michael K (1964- )

The acting director of national intelligence testified. Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused the White House of a cover-up and President Trump suggested punishing the sources used in a whistle-blower’s complaint against him.CreditCreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

“In the course of my duties, I have received information from multiple U.S. government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.” Thus began an explosive criminal complaint drafted by an American intelligence officer and released by the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday.

At the center of the whistle-blower’s complaint is a July call between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine. Mr. Trump brought up American aid to that country — without explicitly mentioning that he had just frozen a military aid package of hundreds of millions of dollars — and then pressed the Ukrainian leader to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

The whistle-blower, who did not listen directly to the call, also said that in an attempt to “lock down” all records of the call, White House lawyers told officials to move the transcript into a separate system reserved for classified information that is especially sensitive. These actions, the whistle-blower suggested, showed that those involved “understood the gravity of what had transpired.”

The complaint goes on to say the president’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, is “a central figure in this effort,” but that Attorney General William P. Barr “appears to be involved as well.”

White House officials dismissed the significance of the document. “Nothing has changed with the release of this complaint, which is nothing more than a collection of thirdhand accounts of events and cobbled-together press clippings — all of which shows nothing improper,” the press secretary Stephanie Grisham said. She added, “The White House will continue to push back on the hysteria and false narratives being peddled by Democrats and many in the mainstream media.”

Document: Read the Whistle-Blower Complaint

Sept. 26, 2019

Westlake Legal Group whistleblower-complaint-promo-1569502500532-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v6 Trump Impeachment Inquiry Updates: The Complaint, the Testimony, the Reaction Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate Committee on Intelligence Senate Republican Party Office of the Director of National Intelligence Maguire, Joseph (1952- ) Justice Department House of Representatives House Committee on Intelligence Giuliani, Rudolph W Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr Barr, William P Atkinson, Michael K (1964- )
ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_161542140_f6b07da6-c108-4fbf-834d-78f15e24c93b-articleLarge Trump Impeachment Inquiry Updates: The Complaint, the Testimony, the Reaction Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate Committee on Intelligence Senate Republican Party Office of the Director of National Intelligence Maguire, Joseph (1952- ) Justice Department House of Representatives House Committee on Intelligence Giuliani, Rudolph W Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr Barr, William P Atkinson, Michael K (1964- )

A view of the West Wing of the White House. The whistle-blower was a C.I.A. employee detailed to work at the White House.CreditTom Brenner for The New York Times

The man has since returned to the C.I.A., according to three people familiar with his identity. Little else is known about him. His complaint suggested he was an analyst by training and made clear he was steeped in details of American policy toward Europe, demonstrating a sophisticated understanding of Ukrainian politics and at least some knowledge of the law.

The whistle-blower’s expertise will likely add to lawmakers’ confidence about the merits of his complaint, and tamp down allegations that he might have misunderstood what he learned about Mr. Trump.

Lawyers for the whistle-blower refused to confirm that he worked for the C.I.A. and said that publishing information about him was dangerous.

“Any decision to report any perceived identifying information of the whistle-blower is deeply concerning and reckless, as it can place the individual in harm’s way,” said Andrew Bakaj, his lead counsel. “The whistle-blower has a right to anonymity.”

Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The New York Times, said The Times was right to publish information about the whistle-blower. “The role of the whistle-blower, including his credibility and his place in the government, is essential to understanding one of the most important issues facing the country — whether the president of the United States abused power and whether the White House covered it up.”

[Our executive editor, Dean Baquet, addressed readers’ concerns about the decision to publish limited information about the whistle-blower.]

— Adam Goldman, Michael S. Schmidt and Julian E. Barnes

Read on: Whistle-Blower Is a C.I.A. Officer Who Was Detailed to the White House

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Westlake Legal Group 26dc-transcript-videoSixteenByNine3000 Trump Impeachment Inquiry Updates: The Complaint, the Testimony, the Reaction Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate Committee on Intelligence Senate Republican Party Office of the Director of National Intelligence Maguire, Joseph (1952- ) Justice Department House of Representatives House Committee on Intelligence Giuliani, Rudolph W Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr Barr, William P Atkinson, Michael K (1964- )

President Trump made remarks to the United States Mission to the United Nations on Thursday, the same day a House committee released a declassified version of a complaint.CreditCreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

“I want to know who’s the person who gave the whistle-blower the information because that’s close to a spy,” Mr. Trump on Thursday morning told staff from the United States Mission to the United Nations. “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart with spies and treason, right? We used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”

The remark stunned the audience, according to a person briefed on what took place, who had notes of the president’s comments. Mr. Trump condemned Mr. Biden’s role in Ukraine at a time when his son Hunter Biden was on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, and said the whistle-blower never heard the call in question.

When he returned from New York, Mr. Trump resumed his diatribe against Democrats. “There should be a way of stopping it, maybe legally through the courts,” he said.

Republicans largely stayed in line behind Mr. Trump. In a statement to Politico, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, dismissed as “laughable” the Democrats’ assertion that Mr. Trump’s behavior in the Ukraine matter should lead to his impeachment.

Representative Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader, complained that the whistle-blower “has no primary sources,” even though the complaint makes clear that the author spoke to numerous people with direct knowledge of the call.

Some Republicans sounded more cautious. Representative Will Hurd, a moderate Texas Republican who has announced he will not run for re-election, wrote on Twitter that the complaint was “concerning” and needs to be fully investigated.

Read on: Trump Attacks Whistle-Blower’s Sources and Alludes to Punishment for Spies

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Westlake Legal Group 26dc-impeach-video-sub-videoSixteenByNine3000 Trump Impeachment Inquiry Updates: The Complaint, the Testimony, the Reaction Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate Committee on Intelligence Senate Republican Party Office of the Director of National Intelligence Maguire, Joseph (1952- ) Justice Department House of Representatives House Committee on Intelligence Giuliani, Rudolph W Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr Barr, William P Atkinson, Michael K (1964- )

Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, appeared before the House Intelligence Committee to discuss the handling of a whistle-blower complaint against President Trump.CreditCreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence at the center of the fight over a whistle-blower complaint about President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, said the whistle-blower “acted in good faith” and that “everything here in this matter is totally unprecedented.”

In fact, he told Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, Democrat of Illinois, that he would not have accepted the post of acting director of national intelligence if he knew of the case.

Facing tough questioning from Republicans and Democrats, he defended both the whistle-blower’s actions and his handling of the case, which he called “urgent and important.”

The White House did not order him to keep the complaint from Congress, he said. His delay was about sorting through possible claims of executive privilege.

As the hearing wound down, the spy chief said the matter was in Congress’s hands. “My responsibility was to get you the whistle-blower letter and get the other information released. I have done my duty,” he told the committee. Whether to investigate further “is on the shoulders of the legislative branch and this committee.”

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Westlake Legal Group 26dc-pelosi-vid-videoSixteenByNine3000 Trump Impeachment Inquiry Updates: The Complaint, the Testimony, the Reaction Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate Committee on Intelligence Senate Republican Party Office of the Director of National Intelligence Maguire, Joseph (1952- ) Justice Department House of Representatives House Committee on Intelligence Giuliani, Rudolph W Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr Barr, William P Atkinson, Michael K (1964- )

Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke to reporters after new details emerged from a whistle-blower’s complaint against President Trump related to his phone call with Ukraine’s leader.CreditCreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, echoing the language of Watergate, accused the White House of engaging in “a cover-up” of the Ukraine affair, citing a whistle-blower complaint that said Trump administration officials worked to “lock down” all records of a call between President Trump and Ukraine’s president.

“This is a cover-up,” Ms. Pelosi told reporters at her weekly news conference.

The speaker refused to discuss a timeline for the impeachment inquiry she only embraced this week, but she did indicate that the consensus in the House Democratic Caucus is that the inquiry should concentrate on Ukraine.

“The inquiry and the consensus in our caucus is that our focus now is on this allegation,” she said.

Several Democratic presidential candidates also accused Mr. Trump of attempting to hide his call with Ukraine’s leader after the complaint’s release.

At least five candidates — Senators Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and the former housing secretary Julián Castro — all accused Mr. Trump of a “cover-up.”

Read on: How the Impeachment Process Works

Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Katie Benner contributed reporting from Washington and Maggie Haberman, Katie Glueck and Matt Stevens from New York.

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