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. This interference includes, among other things,
pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the President’s main
domestic political rivals. The President’ s personal lawyer, Mr. Rudolph
Giuliani, is a central figure in this effort. Attorney General Barr appears to
be involved as well.
Over the past four months, more than
half a dozen U.S. officials have informed me of various facts related to this
effort. The information provided herein was relayed to me in the course of
official interagency business. It is routine for U.S. officials with
responsibility for a particular regional or functional portfolio to share such
information with one another in order to inform policymaking and analysis.
I was not a direct witness to most
of the events described. However, I found my colleagues’ accounts of these
events to be credible because, in almost all cases, multiple officials
recounted fact patterns that were consistent with one another. In addition, a
variety of information consistent with these private accounts has been reported
I am deeply concerned that the
actions described below constitute “a serious or flagrant problem, abuse,
or violation of law or Executive Order” that “does not include
differences of opinions concerning public policy matters,” consistent with
the definition of an “urgent concern” in 50 U.S.C. §3033(k)(5)(G). I
am therefore fulfilling my duty to report this information, through proper
legal channels, to the relevant authorities.
To the best of my knowledge, the
entirety of this statement is unclassified when separated from the classified
enclosure. I have endeavored to apply the classification standards outlined in
Executive Order (EO) 13526 and to separate out information that I know or have
reason to believe is classified for national security purposes. 1
If a classification marking is
applied retroactively, I believe it is incumbent upon the classifying authority
to explain why such a marking was applied, and to which
specific information it pertains.
The 25 July Presidential phone call
Early in the morning of 25 July, the
President spoke by telephone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. I do
not know which side initiated the call. This was the first publicly
acknowledged call between the two leaders since a brief congratulatory call
after Mr. Zelenskyy won the presidency on 21 April.
Multiple White House officials with
direct knowledge of the call informed me that, after an initial exchange of
pleasantries, the President used the remainder of the call to advance his
personal interests. Namely, he sought to pressure the Ukrainian leader to take
actions to help the President’s 2020 reelection bid. According to the White
House officials who had direct knowledge of the call, the President pressured
Mr. Zelenskyy to, inter alia:
initiate or continue an
investigation 2 into the activities of former Vice President Joseph Biden and
his son, Hunter Biden;
assist in purportedly uncovering
that allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election
originated in Ukraine, with a specific request that the
Ukrainian leader locate and turn over servers used by the
Democratic National Committee (DNC) and examined by the U.S.
cyber security firm Crowdstrike, 3 which initially reported that Russian
hackers had penetrated the DNC’s networks in 2016; and
meet or speak with two people
the President named explicitly as his personal envoys on these matters, Mr.
Giuliani and Attorney General Barr, to whom the President referred multiple
times in tandem.
1 Apart from the information in the
Enclosure, it is my belief that none of the information contained herein meets
the definition of”classified information” outlined in EO 13526, Part
1, Section 1.1. There is ample open-source information about the efforts I
describe below, including statements by the President and Mr. Giuliani. In
addition, based on my personal observations, there is discretion with respect
to the classification of private comments by or instructions from the
President, including his communications with foreign leaders; information that
is not related to U.S. foreign policy or national security—such as the
information contained in this document, when separated from the Enclosure—is
generally treated as unclassified. I also believe that applying a
classification marking to this information would violate EO 13526, Part 1,
Section 1.7, which states: “In no case shall information be classified,
continue to be maintained as classified, or fail to be declassified in order
to: (I) conceal violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error; [or]
(2) prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency.”
2 It is unclear whether such a
Ukrainian investigation exists. See Footnote #7 for additional information.
3 I do not know why the President
associates these servers with Ukraine. (See, for example, his comments to Fox
News on 20 July: “And Ukraine. Take a look at Ukraine. How come the FBI
didn’t take this server? Podesta told them to get out. He said, get out. So,
how come the FBI didn’t take the server from the DNC?”)
The President also praised Ukraine’s
Prosecutor General, Mr. Yuriy Lutsenko, and suggested that Mr. Zelenskyy might
want to keep him in his position. (Note: Starting in March 2019, Mr. Lutsenko
made a series of public allegations—many of which he later walked back—about
the Biden family’s activities in Ukraine, Ukrainian officials’ purported
involvement in the 2016 U.S. election, and the activities of the U.S. Embassy
in Kyiv. See Part IV for additional context.)
The White House officials who told
me this information were deeply disturbed by what had transpired in the phone
call. They told me 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 Ukrainian side was the first to
publicly acknowledge the phone call. On the evening of 25 July, a readout was
posted on the website of the Ukrainian President that contained the following
line (translation from original Russian-language readout):
Donald Trump expressed his
conviction that the new Ukrainian government will be able to quickly improve
Ukraine’s image and complete the investigation of corruption
cases that have held back cooperation between Ukraine and the United States.”
Aside from the above-mentioned
“cases” purportedly dealing with the Biden family and the 2016 U.S.
election, I was told by White House officials that no other “cases”
Based on my understanding, there
were approximately a dozen White House officials who listened to the call—a
mixture of policy officials and duty officers in the White House Situation
Room, as is customary. The officials I spoke with told me that participation in
the call had not been restricted in advance because everyone expected it would
be a “routine” call with a foreign leader. I do not know whether
anyone was physically present with the President during the call.
In addition to White House
personnel, I was told that a State Department official, Mr. T. Ulrich
Brechbuhl, also listened in on the call.
I was not the only non-White House
official to receive a readout of the call. Based on my understanding, multiple
State Department and Intelligence Community officials were also briefed on the
contents of the call as outlined above.
II. Efforts to
restrict access to records related to the call
In the days following the phone
call, I learned from multiple U.S. officials that senior White House officials
had intervened to “lock down” all
records of the phone call, especially the official
word-for-word transcript of the call that was produced—as is
customary—by the White House Situation Room. This set of actions
underscored to me that White House officials understood the gravity of
what had transpired in the call.
White House officials told me that
they were “directed” by White-House lawyers to remove the electronic
transcript from the computer system in which such transcripts are typically
stored for coordination, finalization, and distribution to Cabinet-level
Instead, the transcript was loaded
into a separate electronic system that is otherwise used
to store and handle classified information of an especially sensitive nature.
One White House official described this act as an abuse of this
electronic system because the call did not contain anything remotely sensitive
from a national security perspective.
I do not know whether similar
measures were taken to restrict access to other records of the call, such as
contemporaneous handwritten notes taken by those who listened in.
On 26 July, a day after the call,
U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker visited Kyiv
and met with President Zelenskyy and a variety of Ukrainian political figures.
Ambassador Volker was accompanied in his meetings by U.S. Ambassador to the
European Union Gordon Sondland. Based on multiple readouts of these meetings
recounted to me by various U.S. officials, Ambassadors Volker and Sondland
reportedly provided advice to the Ukrainian leadership about how to
“navigate” the demands that the President had made of Mr. Zelenskyy.
I also learned from multiple U.S.
officials that, on or about 2 August, Mr. Giuliani reportedly traveled
to Madrid to meet with one of President Zelenskyy’ s advisers, Andriy
Yermak. The U.S. officials characterized this meeting, which was not reported
publicly at the time, as a “direct follow -up” to the President’s call
with Mr. Zelenskyy about the “cases” they had discussed.
Separately, multiple U.S. officials
told me that Mr. Giuliani had reportedly privately reached out to a variety of
other Zelenskyy advisers, including Chief of Staff Andriy Bohdan and Acting
Chairman of the Security Service of Ukraine Ivan Bakanov. 4
I do not know whether those
officials met or spoke with Mr. Giuliani, but I was told separately by multiple
U.S. officials that Mr. Yermak and lvlr. Bakanov intended to travel to
Washington in mid-August.
On 9 August, the President told
reporters: “I think [President Zelenskyy] is going to make a deal with
President Putin, and he will be invited to the White House. And we look forward
to seeing him. He’s already been invited to the White House, and
he wants to come. And I think he will. He’s a very reasonable
guy. He wants to see peace in Ukraine, and I think he will be coming very soon,
leading up to the 25 July Presidential phone call
Beginning in late March 2019, a series
of articles appeared in an online publication called The Hill. In these
articles, several Ukrainian officials—most notably, Prosecutor General Yuriy
Lutsenko—made a series of allegations against other Ukrainian officials and
current and former U.S. officials. Mr. Lutsenko and his colleagues alleged,
4 In a report published by the
Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) on 22 July, two
associates of Mr. Giuliani reportedly traveled to Kyiv in May 201Q and met with
Mr. Bakanov and another close Zelenskyy adviser, Mr. Serhiy Shefir.
that they possessed evidence that
Ukrainian officials—namely, Head of the National Anticorruption Bureau of
Ukraine Artem Sytnyk and Member of Parliament Serhiy Leshchenko—had
“interfered” in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, allegedly in
collaboration with the DNC and the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv; 5
that the U.S. Embassy in
Kyiv—specifically, U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who had criticized Mr.
Lutsenko’s organization for its poor record on fighting corruption—had
allegedly obstructed Ukrainian law enforcement agencies’ pursuit of corruption
cases, including by providing a “do not prosecute” list, and had
prosecutors from traveling to the United
States expressly to prevent them from delivering their “evidence”
about the 2016 U.S. election; 6 and
that former Vice President Biden had
pressured former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in 2016 to fire then
Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin in order to quash a purported
criminal probe into Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company on whose board
the former Vice President’s son, Hunter, sat. 7
In several public comments, 8 Mr.
Lutsenko also stated that he wished to communicate directly with Attorney
General Barr on these matters. 9
The allegations by Mr. Lutsenko came
on the eve of the first round of Ukraine’s presidential election on 31 March.
By that time, Mr. Lutsenko’s political patron, President Poroshenko, was
trailing Mr. Zelenskyy in the polls and appeared likely to be defeated. Mr.
Zelenskyy had made known his desire to replace Mr. Lutsenko as Prosecutor
General. On 21 April, Mr. Poroshenko lost the runoff to Mr. Zelenskyy by a
landslide. See Enclosure for additional information.
5 Mr. Sytnyk and Mr. Leshchenko are
two of Mr. Lutsenko’s main domestic rivals. Mr. Lutsenko has no legal training
and has been widely criticized in Ukraine for politicizing criminal probes and
using his tenure as Prosecutor General to protect corrupt Ukrainian officials.
He has publicly feuded with Mr. Sytnyk, who heads Ukraine’s only competent
anticorruption body, and with Mr. Leshchenko, a former investigative journalist
who has repeatedly criticized Mr. Lutsenko’s record. In December 2018, a
Ukrainian court upheld a complaint by a Member of Parliament, Mr. Boryslav
Rozenblat, who alleged that Mr. Sytnyk and Mr. Leshchenko had
“interfered” in the 2016 U.S. election by publicizing a document
detailing corrupt payments made by former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych
before his ouster in 2014. Mr. Rozenblat had originally filed the motion in
late 2017 after attempting to flee Ukraine amid an investigation into his
taking of a large bribe. On 16 July 2019, Mr. Leshchenko publicly stated that a
Ukrainian court had overturned the lower court’s decision.
6 Mr. Lutsenko later told Ukrainian
news outlet The Babel on 17 April that Ambassador Yovanovitch had never
provided such a list, and that he was, in fact, the one who requested such a
7 Mr. Lutsenko later told Bloomberg
on 16 May that former Vice President Biden and his son were not subject to any
current Ukrainian investigations, and that he had no evidence against them.
Other senior Ukrainian officials also contested his original allegations; one
former senior Ukrainian prosecutor told Bloomberg on 7 May that Mr. Shokin in
fact was not investigating Burisma at the time of his removal in 2016.
8 See, for example, Mr. Lutsenko’s
comments to The Hill on 1 and 7 April and his interview with The Babel on 17
April, in which he stated that he had spoken with Mr. Giuliani about
arranging contact with Attorney General Barr.
9 In May, Attorney General Barr
announced that he was initiating a probe into the “origins” of the
Russia investigation. According to the
above-referenced OCCRP report (22 July), two associates of Mfr.
Giuliani claimed to be working with Ukrainian officials to uncover
information that would become part of this inquiry. In an interview with
Fox News on 8 August, Mr. Giuliani claimed that Mr. John Durham, whom Attorney
General Barr designated to lead this probe, was “spending a lot of time in
Europe” because he was “investigating Ukraine.” I do not know
the extent to which, if at all, Mr. Giuliani is directly coordinating his
efforts on Ukraine with Attorney General Barr or Mr. Durham.
It was also publicly reported that
Mr. Giuliani had met on at least two occasions with Mr. Lutsenko: once in New
York in late January and again in Warsaw in mid-February. In addition, it was
publicly reported that Mr. Giuliani had spoken in late 2018 to former
Prosecutor General Shokin, in a Skype call arranged by two associates of Mr.
On 25 April in an interview with Fox
News, the President called Mr. Lutsenko’s claims “big” and
“incredible” and stated that the Attorney General “would want to
On or about 29 April, I learned from
U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the situation that Ambassador
Yovanovitch had been suddenly recalled to Washington by senior State Department
officials for “consultations” and would most likely be removed from
Around the same time, I also learned
from a U.S. official that “associates” of Mr. Giuliani were trying to
make contact with the incoming Zelenskyy team. 11
On 6 May, the State Department
announced that Ambassador Yovanovitch would be ending her assignment in Kyiv
However, several U.S. officials told
me that, in fact, her tour was curtailed because of pressure stemming from Mr.
Lutsenko’s allegations. Mr. Giuliani subsequently stated in
an interview with a Ukrainian journalist published on 14 May that
Ambassador Yovanovitch was “removed … because she was part of the
efforts against the President.”
On 9 May, The New York Times reported
that Mr. Giuliani planned to travel to Ukraine to press the Ukrainian
government to pursue investigations that would help the President in his 2020
In his multitude of public
statements leading up to and in the wake of the publication of this article,
Mr. Giuliani confirmed that he was focused on encouraging Ukrainian authorities
to pursue investigations into alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S.
election and alleged wrongdoing by
the Biden family. 12
On the afternoon of 10 May, the
President stated in an interview with Politico that he planned to speak with
Mr. Giuliani about the trip.
A few hours later, Mr. Giuliani
publicly canceled his trip, claiming that Mr. Zelenskyy was “surrounded by
enemies of the [U.S.] President…and of the United States.”
On 11 May, Mr. Lutsenko met for two
hours with President-elect Zelenskyy, according to a public account given
several days later by Mr. Lutsenko. Mr. Lutsenko publicly stated that he had
told Mr. Zelenskyy that he wished to remain as Prosecutor General.
10 See, for example, the
above-referenced articles in Bloomberg (16 May) and OCCRP (22 July).
11 I do not know whether these
associates of Mr. Giuliani were the same individuals named in the 22 July
report by OCCRP, referenced above.
12 See, for example , Mr .
Giuliani’s appearance on Fox News on 5 April and his tweets on 23 April and 10
May. In his interview with The New York Times, Mr. Giuliani stated that the
President “basically knows what I’m doing, sure, as his lawyer.” Mr.
Giuliani also stated: “We’re not meddling in an election, we’re meddling
in an investigation, which we have a right to do… There’s nothing illegal
about it… Somebody could say it’s improper. And this isn’t foreign policy –
I’m asking them to do an investigation that they’re doing already
and that other people are telling them to stop. And I’m going to give them
reasons why they shouldn’t stop it because that information will be very, very
helpful to my client, and may tum out to be helpful to my government.”
Starting in mid-May, I heard from
multiple U.S. officials that they were deeply concerned by what they viewed as
Mr. Giuliani’s circumvention of national security decisionmaking processes to
engage with Ukrainian officials and relay messages back and forth between Kyiv
and the President. These officials also told me:
that State Department officials,
including Ambassadors Volker and Sondland, had spoken with Mr. Giuliani in an
attempt to “contain the damage” to U,S. national security; and
that Ambassadors Volker and Sondland
during this time period met with members of the new Ukrainian
administration and, in addition to discussing policy matters, sought to help
Ukrainian leaders understand and respond to the differing messages they were
receiving from official U.S. channels on the one hand, and Mr. Giuliani on the
During this same timeframe, multiple
U.S. officials told me that the Ukrainian leadership was led to believe that a
meeting or phone call between the President and President Zelenskyy would
depend on whether Zelenskyy showed willingness to “play ball” on the
issues that had been publicly aired by Mr. Lutsenko and Mr. Giuliani. (Note:
This was the general understanding of the state of affairs as conveyed to me by
U.S. officials from late May into early July. I do not know who delivered this
message to the Ukrainian leadership, or when.) See Enclosure for additional
Shortly after President Zelenskyy’ s
inauguration, it was publicly reported that Mr. Giuliani met with two other
Ukrainian officials: Ukraine’s Special Anticorruption Prosecutor, Mr. Nazar
Kholodnytskyy, and a former Ukrainian diplomat named Andriy Telizhenko. Both
Kholodnytskyy and Mr. Telizhenko are
allies of Mr. Lutsenko and made similar allegations in the above-mentioned
series of articles in The Hill.
On 13 June, the President told ABC’s
George Stephanopoulos that he would accept damaging information on his
political rivals from a foreign government.
On 21 June, Mr. Giuliani tweeted:
“New Pres of Ukraine still silent on investigation of Ukrainian
interference in 2016 and alleged Biden bribery of Poroshenko. Time for
leadership and investigate both if you want to purge how Ukraine was abused by
Hillary and Clinton people.”
In mid-July, I learned of a sudden
change of policy with respect to U.S. assistance for Ukraine. See Enclosure for
August 12, 2019
information is provided as follows:
(U)Additional information related to
(TS/) According to multiple White
House officials I spoke with, the transcript of the President’s call with
President Zelenskyy was placed into a computer system managed directly by the
National Security Council (NSC) Directorate for Intelligence Programs. This is
a standalone computer system reserved for codeword-level intelligence
information, such as covert action. According to information I received from White
House officials, some officials voiced concerns internally that this would be
an abuse of the system and was not consistent with the responsibilities of the
Directorate for Intelligence Programs. 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
Additional information related to
I would like to expand upon two
issues mentioned in Section IV that might have a connection with the overall
effort to pressure the Ukrainian leadership. As I do not know definitively
whether the below-mentioned decisions are connected to the broader
efforts I describe, I have chosen to include them in the classified
annex. If they indeed represent genuine policy deliberations and decisions
formulated to advance U.S . foreign policy and national security, one
might be able to make a reasonable case that the facts are classified.
I learned from U.S. officials that,
on or around 14 May, the President instructed Vice President Pence to cancel
his planned travel to Ukraine to attend President
Zelenskyy’ s inauguration on 20 May;
Secretary of Energy Rick Perry led the delegation instead. According to these
officials, it was also “made clear” to them that the President did
not want to meet with Mr. Zelenskyy until he saw how Zelenskyy “chose to
act” in office. I do not know how this guidance was communicated, or by
whom. I also do not know whether this action was connected with the broader
understanding, described in the unclassified letter, that a meeting or phone
call between the President and President Zelenskyy would depend on whether
Zelenskyy showed willingness to “play ball” on the issues that
had been publicly aired by Mr. Lutsenko and Mr. Giuliani.
On 18 July, an Office of Management
and Budget (0MB) official informed Departments and Agencies that the President
“earlier that month” had issued instructions to suspend all U.S.
security assistance to Ukraine. Neither OMB nor the NSC staff knew why this
instruction had been issued. During interagency meetings on 23 July and 26
July, OMB officials again stated explicitly that the instruction to suspend
this assistance had come directly from the President, but they still were
unaware of a policy rationale.
As of early August, I heard from
U.S. officials that some Ukrainian officials were aware that U.S. aid might be
in jeopardy, but I do not know how or when they learned of it.