I just spent far too much time writing up a facebook post to try and provide a sort of high-level, citation-filled rundown of The Ukraine Call since I haven't seen anything laying it out in a simple manner so I figured I'd post it here, too.
The Misuse of Presidential Power to Solicit Foreign Interference in Our Election
“In the course of my official duties, 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.” 1The money: the US was planning to send several hundred million dollars to Ukraine to help them purchase military hardware.
This aid package (announced in June of 2019) was contingent on Ukraine’s efforts to combat corruption, and the Pentagon sent a letter to Congress in which they "certified that the Government of Ukraine has taken substantial actions to make defense institutional reforms for the purposes of decreasing corruption [and] increasing accountability." 2The setup: in June, the White House suddenly blocked the aid package without explanation.
In July, “Administration officials were instructed to tell lawmakers that the delays were part of an “interagency process” but to give them no additional information — a pattern that continued for nearly two months, until the White House released the funds on the night of Sept. 11.” 3The shakedown: this was followed by a phone call in July between Trump and the Ukrainian President in which the Ukrainian President brought up wanting to purchase military hardware and Trump’s response was to ask for some “favors.”
From the official “reconstructed transcript” created from notes on the phone call, we can see that Trump’s response to the Ukrainian President’s comment about the financial aid they are expecting to receive is to request some investigations:
“President Zelenskyy: We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.
The President: I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike… I guess you have one of your wealthy people... The server, they say Ukraine has it.
[here the Ukrainian President, Zelenskyy, assures Trump that they are “great friends” and that “all the investigations will be done openly and candidly”]
The President: The other thing, There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great.” 4The crime: the use of the US government’s money to pressure a foreign government into manufacturing an investigation to hurt a political rival in the upcoming election is an abuse of power.
Even setting aside the use of the US government’s resources to extort assistance, “It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election.” 5The cover-up: realizing the seriousness of what just happened, the White House attempted to hide the transcript of the phone call on a server used for classified national security info.
“White House lawyers directed White House officials to remove the electronic transcript of the Zelensky call from the computer system where such transcripts normally are stored. That transcript then 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.”” 6
The whistleblower elaborates on what that server is usually for: “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.” 1The conclusion:
“I am deeply concerned that the actions described below constitute “a serious or flagrant problem, abuse, or violation of law or Executive Order” [...] I am also concerned that these actions pose risks to U.S. national security and undermine the U.S. Government's efforts to deter and counter foreign interference in U.S. elections.” 1