Whistleblower alleges White House coverup

By Meg Wagner, Veronica Rocha, Amanda Wills, Mike Hayes and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 8:37 p.m. ET, September 26, 2019
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9:22 a.m. ET, September 26, 2019

Whistleblower confused by Trump's Crowdstrike obsession

From CNN's Marshall Cohen

The whistleblower expresses confusion about Trump’s references to CrowdStrike during his calls with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Some context: The Democratic National Committee hired CrowdStrike in 2016 to investigate hacks to its computers, which were later blamed on the Russian government. 

In the call, Trump mentioned the US cybersecurity firm and said, “the server, they say Ukraine has it.” Trump also encouraged Zelensky to “find out what happened” with the server.

“I do not know why the President associates these servers with Ukraine,” the whistleblower wrote in a footnote in their letter, which was addressed to Congress.

The whistleblower added that Trump had previously connected the DNC server to Ukraine in television interviews.  

Trump’s interest in CrowdStrike and the DNC server, more than three years after the hacks, is part of a larger effort to undermine the notion that Russia meddled in the 2016 election to help him win. He has repeatedly rejected the assessment from CrowdStrike, which was later confirmed by US intelligence agencies, that Russia was behind the DNC hacks and leaks.

9:20 a.m. ET, September 26, 2019

Congressman: "It appears there was an attempted coverup"

From CNN's Jim Acosta

Democratic congressman Joaquin Castro, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, says in response to the whistleblower complaint: 

"It appears there was an attempted coverup."
10:41 a.m. ET, September 26, 2019

Adam Schiff: Call transcript is "most graphic evidence yet that the President of the United States has betrayed his oath of office"

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff called the White House transcript of the call between Trump and the Ukraine president the "most graphic evidence yet that the President of the United States has betrayed his oath of office."

"Betrayed his oath to defend our national security and betrayed his oath to defend our constitution," he said.

He is speaking at a hearing with Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire.

9:21 a.m. ET, September 26, 2019

Whistleblower alleges admin use of intel system to lock down transcript was "abuse" of system

From Katelyn Polantz and Tammy Kupperman

The whistleblower alleges that the administration has locked down other Trump transcripts in a more secretive computer system for political reasons, according to his complaint.

The whistleblower describes how the transcript of the Trump-Zelensky call was moved to a computer system managed by the National Security Council Directorate for Intelligence Programs, in a partially redacted appendix attached to his complaint.  

This move was concerning to some officials, who shared their concerns internally that this was an "abuse of the system."

"According to White House officials I spoke with, this was 'not the first time' under this Administration that a Presidential transcript was placed into this codeword-level system solely for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive--rather than national security sensitive--information."

The whistleblower does not provide further details of these allegations.

9:14 a.m. ET, September 26, 2019

What we know and don't know about the whistleblower

The whistleblower complaint has been released to the public.

Here's what we know and don't so far about the whistleblower:

  • This person has tentatively agreed to meet with Congressional lawmakers.
  • The whistleblower is not scheduled to appear before Congress, a source said.
  • Lawmakers have not been told the identity of the whistleblower or where the complainant works in the government

9:12 a.m. ET, September 26, 2019

NOW: Director of National Intelligence testifies

Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire is testifying before the House Intelligence Committee.

Maguire is facing intense scrutiny amid a widening controversy surrounding his handling of a whistleblower complaint regarding President Trump.

Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that Maguire threatened to resign if the White House tried to restrict his testimony before Congress.

He denied the report with this statement:

“At no time have I considered resigning my position since assuming this role on Aug. 16, 2019. I have never quit anything in my life, and I am not going to start now. I am committed to leading the Intelligence Community to address the diverse and complex threats facing our nation.”
9:06 a.m. ET, September 26, 2019

White House allies worry Trump is without strategy on the impeachment inquiry

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins, Kevin Liptak, Pam Brown and Jeremy Diamond

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Questionable rapid-pace decisions spurred by President Trump himself have left some his allies wondering if there's a cogent strategy in place to counter Democrats in the wake of the fast-moving impeachment inquiry, people familiar with the matter say.

Some people close to him believe the President is in denial about the gravity of his predicament.

A depleted West Wing now faces another storm that's likely to distract from the few policy goals aides were hoping to accomplish by year's end.

And the President himself — even after months of anticipation — has nonetheless taken the impeachment developments hard.

At a fundraiser Wednesday night, Trump greeted some of his longtime friends, who'd paid thousands of dollars to attend, with disbelief at what had unfolded, according to a person who was there. 

After two-and-a-half years of weathering incremental developments in the Russia investigation that did not trigger an impeachment inquiry, the speed at which the Ukraine scandal unfolded has left Trump and his aides whiplashed.

Many White House officials said they were in disbelief at how rapidly Democrats have sped up their impeachment inquiry against Trump. For years, the constant drumbeat of impeachment loomed over the White House, but officials now feel like the ground has shifted beneath them.

9:07 a.m. ET, September 26, 2019

Whistleblower says State officials spoke with Rudy Giuliani to "contain the damage" to national security

From CNN's Katelyn Polantz

US officials had been concerned, the whistleblower said, with Trump's private lawyer Rudy Giuliani's contact with Ukraine.

The whistleblower alleges the US officials believed Giuliani was a conduit for messages between the President and officials in Kyiv.

Two US State Department officials had spoken with Giuliani "in an attempt to 'contain the damage' to US national security," the whistleblower writes. 

The State Department officials also met with Ukrainian leaders to grasp differing messaging they were receiving from US officials versus Giuliani, the whistleblower wrote.

The complaint also describes how on the day after the president’s call with the Ukraine leader, State officials met with Ukrainian political figures and provided advice “about how to “navigate” the demands that the President had made of Mr. Zelenskyy.”

9:04 a.m. ET, September 26, 2019

Whistleblower lists witnesses to the July call

The whistleblower says the call between the president and the Ukrainian president on July 25th was not restricted because it was “expected to be 'routine.'"

He lists various people who were on the call and read in on the call after it happened including at the White House, State Department and intelligence community.