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Trump’s Ukraine call was ‘crazy’ and ‘frightening,’ White House official told whistle-blower

The New York Times reports:

A White House official who listened to President Trump’s July phone call with Ukraine’s leader described it as “crazy,” “frightening,” and “completely lacking in substance related to national security,” according to a memo written by the whistle-blower at the center of the Ukraine scandal, a C.I.A. officer who spoke to the White House official.

The White House official was “visibly shaken by what had transpired,” the C.I.A. officer wrote in his memo, one day after Mr. Trump pressured President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine in a July 25 phone call to open investigations that would benefit him politically.

A palpable sense of concern had already taken hold among at least some in the White House that the call had veered well outside the bounds of traditional diplomacy, the officer wrote.

“The official stated that there was already a conversation underway with White House lawyers about how to handle the discussion because, in the official’s view, the president had clearly committed a criminal act by urging a foreign power to investigate a U.S. person for the purposes of advancing his own re-election bid in 2020,” the C.I.A. officer wrote.

The document provides a rare glimpse into at least one of the communications with a White House official that helped prompt the whistle-blower’s formal complaint to the intelligence community’s inspector general detailing a broad pressure campaign on Ukraine. The complaint and a reconstructed transcript released by the White House formed the basis of the House impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump.

The inspector general, Michael Atkinson, handed the two-page memo over to Congress last week. A person familiar with its contents described it to The New York Times. Fox News first reported details from it. Neither a lawyer for the whistle-blower nor a spokeswoman for Mr. Atkinson immediately responded to requests for comment.

The whistle-blower, who had no firsthand knowledge of the events he described, wrote in his complaint that he spoke to “multiple U.S. government officials” who said that Mr. Trump was “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.”

It was not clear whether the White House official he spoke to on July 26 was the second whistle-blower, who has also provided information to Mr. Atkinson, or a different person. Neither whistle-blower’s name has been made public. [Continue reading…]

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