Nothing “Entirely Appropriate” About White House Lawyers Hiding Records for Political Reasons

With the formal launch of an impeachment inquiry from the House of Representatives, tensions are escalating rapidly in American politics. Undoubtedly, this is a very serious time in our country. The allegations put forth in the whistle-blower complaint should be met with a clear-eyed perspective. Unfortunately, that likely won’t be the case.

Following the press conference from Speaker Nancy Pelosi explaining why they’d move forward with an inquiry, the White House published a memo detailing the President’s phone call with the President of Ukraine. I applauded the move on my KFGO radio show. Yet, the memo warned, “that it is not a verbatim account” of the full conversation between Trump and Zelensky. Instead, it was based on notes.

Instantly, partisans on both sides reacted with expected rancor. All of the clinches from a “smoking gun” to a “nothing-burger” hit the airwaves. North Dakota’s Senator Kevin Cramer declared the conversation was “entirely appropriate” and the accusations of wrong-doing were based on “false allegations from an unknown bureaucrat.”



Less than 24-hours after the memo summarizing the call was released, officials and the public were able to read the full whistle-blower complaint that launched this series of events. The level of detail in the complaint filed with accompanying documentation – which went through all the proper and legal procedures – is alarming. The complaint is seven pages with two additional pages of appendix. I’ve included multiple links in this post to make it easy for you to find. Read it.

LISTEN: Political Science Professor Breaks Down Impeachment Inquiry

There is a lot to unpack in this whistle-blower complaint. One thing, in particular, stood out to me. The whistle-blower wrote that White House lawyers “directed” other White House officials to remove records – for example, the word-for-word transcript of the July 25th call between the President and Ukraine – from the system where those documents are normally stored at a lower security level. Instead, these lawyers directed the records to be placed in a code-word secure system for storing highly classified information even though it did not meet the criteria. The whole purpose was to limit the number of officials who could see it. In other words, cover it up. Why? Is it an acknowledgment of improper behavior?

There is nothing “entirely appropriate” about the White House directing officials to hide reports out of fear of how damning it could be to the President. That must be investigated. I’ll note Cramer made that comment before the whistle-blower report provided more detail of what transpired. However, Cramer has already dismissed the whistle-blower as an “unknown bureaucrat” who spread “false allegations.” Don’t hold your breath for a more thoughtful remark removed from his partisan blinders now that more information has come out.

Others are pointing out the whistle-blower is basing these allegations on second-hand information. I understand the need for the first-hand knowledge of these allegations. Congress should pursue hearing from those with immediate knowledge of what transpired. Let the facts lead where they will. That should not be a partisan issue.

The bottom line is these allegations detailed in the complaint are worth investigating. Spare everyone the tired talking points of “not getting over the 2016 election” or “re-writing the rules” because Democrats don’t have a candidate to win in 2020. Both are nonsense. There will be a heated debate in the months ahead on what act is worthy of impeachment of an elected President. That debate should not be taken lightly or viewed narrowly because of partisan preferences.

Tyler Axness
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