WASHINGTON: A report by a US whistleblower released on Thursday (Sep 26) alleged that President Donald Trump used his office to solicit Ukraine's interference in the 2020 election, risking US national security.
The report was made public shortly before the scheduled start of a House of Representatives Intelligence Committee hearing at which acting Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire, is to testify after refusing for weeks to share the report with Congress.
"I have received information from multiple US 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 US election," the whistleblower, an unidentified intelligence community official, wrote.
The whistleblower said White House officials had expressed alarm about the gravity of Trump's call with his Ukrainian counterpart, and that they told the whistleblower that they had likely "witnessed the president abuse his office for personal gain".
"In the days following the phone call, I learned from multiple US officials that senior White House officials had intervened to 'lock down' all records of the phone call," the whistleblower said.
"This set of actions underscored to me that White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call," the whistleblower said in the complaint, which he or she described as a matter of "urgent concern".
"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 officials," the whistleblower added.
The report was declassified and released by the committee after weeks of controversy over the matter, which helped lead House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to launch a formal impeachment inquiry into the Republican president.
Trump has denied wrongdoing.
A law required that the report be sent to lawmakers after an inspector general determined that it was urgent and credible.
Shortly before the hearing, the intelligence committee's chairman, Democratic Representative Adam Schiff, announced that it had received the declassified complaint and released it to the public.
"This complaint should never have been withheld from Congress. It exposed serious wrongdoing, and was found both urgent and credible by the Inspector General," Schiff said in a statement.
The whistleblower complaint concerns a Jul 25 telephone call in which Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Joe Biden, the 2020 Democratic presidential front-runner, and his son Hunter, who had worked for a company drilling for gas in Ukraine.
Reports about the call prompted Democrats on Tuesday to launch a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump, accusing him of seeking foreign help to smear Biden, the former US vice-president. There is no evidence the Bidens acted improperly.