A secret whistleblower complaint at the centre of an impeachment inquiry alleges that President Donald Trump abused the power of his office to “solicit interference from a foreign country” in next year’s US election.
The White House then tried to “lock down” the information to cover it up, the complaint says.
The whistleblower complaint is at least in part related to the July phone call between Mr Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in which Mr Trump prodded Mr Zelenskiy to investigate Democratic political rival Joe Biden.
The White House released a rough transcript of that call on Wednesday.
“In the days following the phone call, I learned from multiple US officials that senior White House officials had intervened to ‘lock down’ all the 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,” the complaint says.
The anonymous whistleblower says that despite his or her not being present for the call, multiple White House officials shared consistent details about it.
Those officials told the whistleblower that “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 complaint said.
The document, with its precise detail and clear narrative, is likely to accelerate the impeachment process and put more pressure on Mr Trump to rebut its core contentions and on his fellow Republicans to defend him.
The complaint also provides a road map for corroborating witnesses, which will complicate the president’s effort to characterise the findings as those of a lone partisan out to undermine him.
Mr Trump immediately tweeted in capital letters: “The Democrats are trying to destroy the Republican Party and all that it stands for. Stick together, play their game and fight hard Republicans. Our country is at stake.”
House Democrats who are now mulling Mr Trump’s impeachment are hoping Mr Maguire will explain why he withheld the intelligence community whistleblower’s complaint from Congress for weeks.
Mr Maguire will then go behind closed doors to speak to the Senate intelligence panel.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday endorsed an impeachment investigation in light of the Ukraine revelations.
In a statement on Thursday, the White House said “nothing has changed with the release of this complaint, which is nothing more than a collection of third-hand accounts of events and cobbled-together press clippings – all of which shows nothing improper”.