The nature and timing of previously unannounced discussions with the National Security Council Legal Adviser, John Eisenberg, indicate that officials were using the White House's official channels earlier than previously understood to transmit warnings – even before the call was made Notice for whistle-blowers and the impeachment investigation of the President.
These concerns increased after the call, officials said. Within minutes, high-ranking officials, including national security adviser John Bolton, were called by subordinates for problems with what the president had said to his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky. Bolton and others were looking for a rough copy that was already "locked" in a highly classified computer network.
"When people heard this in real time, there was considerable concern about what was going on ̵
1; alarm bells were kind of ringing," said one person familiar with the sequence of events in the White House and others on condition Anonymity spoke to discuss a delicate matter. "People were trying to figure out what to do, how to understand the situation."
It is unclear whether some or all of the officials who complained to Eisenberg were the ones who later spoke to the whistleblower. 19659002] The accounts strongly contradict Trump's portrayal of the call as a "perfect" exchange in which he has "done nothing wrong", even though it seems he associates US support for Ukraine with the readiness of that country to investigate the family of the former vice president. On Thursday, Trump repeated his attacks on Twitter and described the impeachment investigation as a "democratic fraud".
However, new details about the White House sequence suggest that concern over the call and the events that led to it, even among the participants, was profound, including Trump's top advisers, including Bolton and then Deputy National Security Advisor Charles Kupperman. Bolton and Kupperman did not respond to requests for comments.
Officials stated that within hours of the conversation at 9:00 am, a coarse protocol compiled by aides had been moved from a widespread White House computer network to one normally reserved for high-level intelligence agencies. According to the whistleblower's complaint, white house lawyers have instructed officials to postpone the protocol to the system of secrecy. At the same time, officials were looking for ways to report what they had seen. This was hampered by the lack of a White House, which corresponded to the general positions of the inspector at other agencies. The call went "immediately" to Eisenberg. By the end of the next day, at least two other people who had heard the call or saw the protocol had done so, a person familiar with the matter said.
It is not clear whether Eisenberg took any action after that, the warnings he had received in July or after the Trump-Zelensky conversation. One official said Eisenberg had promised to "follow suit". A message that was interpreted as meaning to investigate the matter and pass on the dismay to the White House lawyer, Pat Cipollone.
In this case, it would help to explain how the White House was already aware of concerns over the July 25 call when CIA Advocate General contacted weeks before the publication of a whistleblower complaint filed by a temporary worker.
White House officials did not answer questions about Eisenberg or a request for comment.
Former Justice Department official Eisenberg has been the top legal advisor to the National Security Council since the beginning of the administration. This term includes numerous legal crises, including investigations by the FBI against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and the Special Representative on Russian Interference in the 2016 elections.
Eisenberg would probably also have played a leading role in preventing the White House's efforts that the secret service director of the nation filed a complaint with the legislator because of Trump's call in Ukraine.
Officials who worked with Eisenberg described him as conscientious and cautious, but said he had an expansive attitude towards executive authorities. A former Justice Department colleague said he was an "honest broker" but had a "contempt" for Congress.
Cipollone this week sent a sensational letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Stating that the impeachment probe was "unconstitutional" and promising that the government would not cooperate.
A memo to Congressional investigators suggests that the unidentified whistleblower was contacted by a White House official on the afternoon of July 25. The complaint outlines many of the concerns that White House officials had in the weeks leading up to this
Those who raised the alarm "were not a swamp, not a deep state," a former senior official said, "but they were White House officials who were worried because they did not want to govern the government in this way. "
Officials led the origins of their initial concerns is about Trump and Ukraine on the sudden and unexplained elimination of the US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, after she became the target of a right-wing smear campaign, which she blamed – without overt evidence – for undermining Trump and his policies ,
NSC officials were alternately perplexed and alarmed at the behavior of Giuliani, who had campaigned for the removal of Yovanovitch and stated in cable television interviews that he urged Ukraine to reopen a corruption investigation by an energy company, Hunter Biden, of Son of the former vice president, paid $ 100,000 a month to act as a board member.
Biden was criticized for taking this position while his father served as vice president and was involved in Ukrainian politics. However, the younger Biden has never been accused of misconduct in his function as board member of Burisma, and there is no evidence that the objections of Giuliani and others, Joe Biden, have intervened inappropriately.
In talks with Giuliani, Trump increasingly concentrated on plots in Kiev, including the bizarre claim that the Democratic National Committee had not been hacked by Russian intelligence in 2016, and the evidence – the infected machines – had been smuggled into Ukraine and Kiev been hidden.
Concern over the government's interactions with Ukraine continued to grow as US Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, said it had been tasked by the President with relations with Kiev. Sondland, who had run a hotel business, received the Brussels Ambassador's Office after supporting Trump's inauguration with a million dollars.
The agenda of Sondland in Ukraine became clear during a White House meeting in early July with Bolton, then the US. Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker and two advisers to the new President of Ukraine.
In a broader discussion in which White House officials encouraged Ukraine to continue its work on eradicating corruption in the country's energy sector, Sondland blurted out that there were such "investigations that have come to an end and need to be re-launched ", said a familiar with the matter US official.
High-ranking officials understood Sondland's statement as an indication of Burisma and Biden. "Bolton went ballistic" after the meeting, the official said. In the following days, high-ranking NSC officials such as Bolton and Kupperman clamored over their concerns about Ukraine.
These concerns were also shared with Bill Taylor, who had been sent to Ukraine to act as acting US Ambassador following Yovanovitch's dismissal. Taylor expressed Sondland in a series of text messages before and after Trump's call.
"President Zelenskyy is sensitive to Ukraine being taken seriously, not just an instrument in Washington's domestic and reelection policies," Taylor wrote to Sondland the previous day. Weeks later, Taylor's tone became more alarmed.
"As I said on the phone, I find it crazy to withhold security support for a political campaign," he wrote to Sondland.
Sondland resigned from a timeline appearance before investigators impeached this week after being ordered not to participate in the government. Negotiations with other officials, however, seem to be on track. Yovanovitch is scheduled to testify Friday, and Fiona Hill, who has been the chief adviser to the White House for Russia, will meet with congressional investigators on Monday.
Paul Sun and Julie Tate contributed to this report.