Whistleblower complaint, acting intel chief to testify, and Trump's Ukraine call: The Morning Rundown

"I would like you to do us a favor": President Donald Trump said to Ukraine's leader in a phone call.
Image: Joseph Maguire
Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire is scheduled to testify about the whistleblower complaint in an open hearing before the House Intelligence Committee at 9 a.m. ET Thursday. Marcus Tappan / AFP - Getty Images file

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
SUBSCRIBE
By Petra Cahill

Good morning, NBC News readers.

The impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump is moving fast. Here's what we know this morning.


The whistleblower complaint against Trump has been declassified, we may see it today

The whistleblower complaint that reportedly centers on President Trump's interactions with Ukraine has been declassified, sources familiar with the matter told NBC News on Wednesday night.

The complaint, which the administration initially withheld from Congress, is at the heart of the weeks-long standoff between the White House and House Democrats that led to the official impeachment inquiry.

It was declassified with what were described as minimal redactions, the sources said, and may be released as soon as Thursday.

Democratic lawmakers who read the report said it was "deeply disturbing" and contained "explosive" new information, but they weren't at liberty to disclose any details.

Some Republicans who viewed the document also raised concerns.

"Republicans ought not to be rushing to circle the wagons to say 'there’s no there there,' when there’s obviously lots that’s very troubling there," said Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., a former Trump critic who was recently endorsed by the president.

The complaint was filed last month and was supposed to be turned over to Congress within a week, but acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire refused to do so on the advice of the Justice Department.

Maguire is scheduled to testify in an open hearing before the House Intelligence Committee at 9 a.m. ET Thursday. Watch live coverage of his testimony on MSNBC and NBCNews.com.


Trump pushed Ukraine to investigate Biden during call, White House notes show

Trump urged Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to open an investigation tied to former Vice President Joe Biden and his son during a conversation in July, according to the official White House notes from the phone call.

During the 30-minute call made from the White House residence, Trump urged Zelenskiy to work with Attorney General William Barr and Rudolph Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer.

There was no explicit quid-pro-quo or mention of the millions in U.S. aid to Ukraine that Trump had put on hold at the time in the notes on the call.

But, shortly after Zelenskiy thanked the president for previous U.S. financial aid and mentioned his country was close to buying more Javelin anti-tank weapons from the U.S., Trump turned to the issue of the Biden investigation, saying, "I would like you to do us a favor though."

Read the five-page unclassified White House description of the call here. And what our reporters see as the top lines here.

Trump, speaking to reporters at the United Nations Wednesday, said he applied "no pressure whatsoever" in his phone call. He described it as "friendly" and said that the media built it up to be the "call from hell" and it turned out to be “nothing.”

Democrats disagreed with the president's assessment, with House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., saying the call "reads like a classic mob shakedown."

A majority of House members now back some kind of impeachment action against Trump. See who they are.


Trump allies voice concerns about Giuliani's role in Ukraine affair

Even as they publicly insist Trump did nothing wrong during his call with Ukraine's president, his allies are privately acknowledging serious concerns about the role of the president's personal attorney in the scandal.

"It’s Giuliani who’s really dragged the president into something that’s a legal matter and a political matter and will be part of impeachment," one former senior White House official said. "What Giuliani did, there's no argument that it was a legitimate, government, law enforcement endeavor."

Another person coming under the microscope is Ambassador Kurt Volker, Trump’s part-time envoy for Ukraine, who served as a facilitator for Giuliani's talks with Ukrainian officials.

And then there is Attorney General Barr. Trump's call with Ukraine's leader raises questions about whether he thinks the attorney general's job includes advocating for him personally.

Barr has denied any involvement in the Ukraine affair through Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec.

"The president has not asked the attorney general to contact Ukraine — on this or any other matter," Kupec said. She also said, "The president has not spoken with the attorney general about having Ukraine investigate anything relating to former Vice President Biden or his son."


Want to receive the Morning Rundown in your inbox? Sign up here.


Plus


THINK about it

They hunt, fish and trap. And Alaska's residents are watching the Arctic change before their eyes into something completely unfamiliar, Joel Clement a senior fellow with the Harvard Belfer Center's Arctic Initiative, writes in an opinion piece.


Science + Tech = MACH

Italian officials warned that Mont Blanc's glacier is at risk of collapsing due to climate change.


Live BETTER

How sore is too sore? Here are some signs you're working out too hard.


One kind thing

Students rely on their teachers for a lot, but one Louisville educator literally went the extra mile for a 10-year-old girl with spina bifida.


Thanks for reading the Morning Rundown.

If you have any comments — likes, dislikes — drop me an email at: petra@nbcuni.com

If you'd like to receive this newsletter in your inbox Monday to Friday, please sign up here.

Thanks, Petra