The whistle-blower complaint against Donald Trump, in just a few pages, establishes the evidence for a quid pro quo between Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy — unfreezing aid payments in exchange for investigating Joe Biden and digging into an unsupported fringe theory about the origins of the Trump-Russia collusion allegation.
Second, it provides strong evidence that some in the Trump administration understood that Trump’s call to Zelenskiy was wrong and potentially criminal — and, third, that they took steps to cover it up.
Despite its brevity, the whistle-blower complaint does just about everything that Robert Mueller’s report failed to do over several hundred pages: provide proof of Trump soliciting interference in a U.S. election from a foreign government. The complaint also documents Trump abusing his office for personal gain. Abusing one’s office for personal gain is a textbook definition of the federal crime of bribery and extortion. It’s also a textbook definition of an impeachable offense.
Let’s start with the quid pro quo. The complaint makes it clear that for several months before the July 25 call, Trump was already trying to make it clear to Zelenskiy that he must initiate the investigations that Trump wanted. According to the complaint, on May 14, Trump told Vice President Mike Pence to cancel a planned trip to attend Zelenskiy’s inauguration on May 20. Instead Trump sent Rick Perry, the secretary of energy. The whistle-blower says that it was “made clear” to U.S. government officials “that the president did not want to meet with Mr. Zelenskyy until he saw how Zelenskyy ‘chose to act’ in office.” The whistle-blower suggests that this message was communicated to Zelenskiy, although the whistle-blower does not know how that happened.