The news that Trump attempted to bribe Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy by withholding military aid in exchange for a sham investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden prompted congressional Democrats to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump, but the underlying story of the whistleblower who came forward could be much bigger than that.
According to the whistleblower's complaint, the full contents of Trump's conservation with not just Zelenskiy but other foreign leaders as well have been stored on a classified server at the White House so no one else can see it.
The whistleblower says the White House is using this system to hide politically damaging information, not to protect national security.
The whistleblower says White House officials told them the conversation on July 25 between Trump and Zelenskiy was removed from the computer system that is typically used for such records of calls with foreign leaders.
Instead, the whistleblower writes, the transcript was loaded into a separate electronic system that is used only for information that is of an "especially sensitive nature." One White House official described that as an abuse of the secure system because there was nothing "remotely sensitive" on the phone call from a national security perspective, the whistleblower said.
According to White House officials the whistleblower spoke with, that was "not the first time" the Trump administration placed a presidential transcript "into this codeword-level system solely for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive — rather than national security sensitive — information."
If impeachment began because Trump tried to bribe the president of Ukraine, harming theirs and our national security in the process, the final vote to impeach Trump may be based on far more than that.
Congressional Democrats understandably want to narrow the focus of their inquiry because the more complicated it becomes, the more difficult it is to explain to the public at large -- but an expansion of the story may be unavoidable.
We don't know what else Trump has said to foreign leaders only for it to be hidden away.
It occurs to me that whatever Trump has said to other foreign leaders, those leaders and their respective intelligence services know what Trump said better than Americans do and there's no telling in what ways this has left Trump compromised.
What has Trump said to Vladimir Putin, the Saudis, or even Kim Jong-un that he doesn't want anyone to know about? The things he says in public are bad enough.