Earlier today, the White House released a nonverbatim memorandum covering the phone call between Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky which prompted yesterday’s official impeachment inquiry announcement. The memo shows that the former asked the latter to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter, representing a stunning abuse of executive power. Trump’s request that the foreign leader exploit the levers of state to damage a possible 2020 Democratic presidential nominee came not long after Trump personally ordered the freezing of $391 million in aid to Ukraine, even as the war-torn Eastern European country struggles to defeat Russian separatists.
The fact that the administration felt comfortable releasing this damning memo shows how casually Trump views corruption and is itself a case for impeachment, but it’s not enough. The American people have a right to see the original whistleblower complaint in full so that they can see exactly what it was that spooked him or her so badly that they felt the need to risk their career and come forward with the information.
Now, some members of Congress have gotten the chance to review the complaint and it appears it may be even worse than previously thought. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) tweeted that he is “even more worried about what happened” after reviewing the complaint. He said there are still “so many facts” that need to be reviewed but that overall he finds the situation “very troubling.”
Having read the whistleblower complaint, I am even more worried about what happened than when I read the memorandum of conversation between President @realDonaldTrump and President Zelensky. There are so many facts that have to be examined. It’s very troubling.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) September 25, 2019
Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) also reviewed the whistleblower’s report and tweeted that it’s “bigger” than he thought, a sobering thouht considering what we already knew was bad enough to prompt an impeachment inquiry.
Just read the Whistleblower report.
This thing is bigger that I thought.
— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) September 25, 2019
CNN’s Manu Raju reported that Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) stated that the complaint “reinforces our concerns” and commended the manner in which the whistleblower tendered his report.
Mike Quigley, House Intel Dem, says the whistleblower complaint “reinforces our concerns,” saying the complaint was very well done
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) September 25, 2019
Raju also reported that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, found the whistleblower’s allegations “deeply disturbing” and “deeply credibly.”
Schiff said: “I just want to say I’ve had the opportunity as have members of the committee to read the whistleblower complaint. I found the allegations deeply disturbing. I also found them deeply credible and I understand why the inspector general found them credible.”
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) September 25, 2019
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) made an appearance on CNN to discuss what he learned from reading the complaint. He called it a “five-alarm concern” and said it provides a blueprint forward, as it provides evidence for Congress to pursue new witnesses and documents. Swalwell said he found it particularly alarming that there were so many people aware of Trump’s conduct who failed to come forward with the information. He hopes that more will follow the whistleblower’s lead and share what they know.
Democratic @RepSwalwell says the whistleblower complaint is a “five-alarm concern.” He adds, “It’s actually shocking that so many people saw this conduct and didn’t come forward.” https://t.co/ZE0cObfpy8 pic.twitter.com/o8TaCWNa0p
— The Situation Room (@CNNSitRoom) September 25, 2019
Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) read the complaint and relayed his feeling that there’s “obviously a lot that’s very troubling there.” While it’s safe to presume that most of the GOP will circle the wagons around the president regardless of how heinous his behavior turns out to be, it’s good to see there are some Republicans who are unwilling to offer a blanket endorsement of anything he does.
After reading the whistleblower complaint, Sen. Ben Sasse cautions all parties to pump the brakes. To those in his party, he says: “Republicans ought not to be rushing to circle the wagons and say there’s no there there when there’s obviously a lot that’s very troubling there.”
— Josh Campbell (@joshscampbell) September 25, 2019
Clearly, the contents of this complaint are explosive. It must be released in full immediately. The country has a right to know if the president is abusing his sacred office for personal gain. At this point, it seems almost certain that he is.
Rob Haffey is a writer, filmmaker, and winner of the ScreenCraft Writing Fellowship. He is a graduate of Drexel University.