US President Donald Trump arrives for a press conference in New York, September 25, 2019, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump arrives for a press conference in New York, September 25, 2019, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
Now playing
02:40
This is what the whistleblower complaint says
CNN/Getty Images
Now playing
02:50
Carl Bernstein: Trump is our own American war criminal
CNN
Now playing
02:19
Tapper presses Republican on GOP resistance to January 6 probe
Now playing
01:35
Republican governor balks at Covid-19 mandates as state's cases soar
Dr. Fauci NIH research China Tapper sotu vpx _00023404.png
CNN
Dr. Fauci NIH research China Tapper sotu vpx _00023404.png
Now playing
03:13
Dr. Fauci weighs in on if US should collaborate with Wuhan labs in future
Pool
Now playing
02:06
WaPo: This is what Trump's PAC is spending its money on
CNN
Now playing
02:04
AZ lawmaker says audit 'not about Trump.' Her emails show otherwise
Getty Images
Now playing
01:55
'Almost giddy': Author describes Trump during Capitol riot
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, center, speaks during a news conference at West Miami Middle School in Miami on Tuesday, May 4, 2021.
Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/AP
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, center, speaks during a news conference at West Miami Middle School in Miami on Tuesday, May 4, 2021.
Now playing
02:20
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis blames this for surge in cases
CNN
Now playing
03:31
'I got elected to shake things up': Lightfoot on time as mayor
US Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, speaks at her weekly press briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on July 22, 2021. (Photo by Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/AFP via Getty Images
US Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, speaks at her weekly press briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on July 22, 2021. (Photo by Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
Now playing
01:21
Pelosi explains why she rejected GOP lawmakers from January 6 committee
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 20: U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters with Vice President Mike Pence in the Oval Office at the White House July 20, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump hosted Republican Congressional leaders and members of his cabinet to talk about a proposed new round of financial stimulus to help the economy during the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic.  (Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)
Pool/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 20: U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters with Vice President Mike Pence in the Oval Office at the White House July 20, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump hosted Republican Congressional leaders and members of his cabinet to talk about a proposed new round of financial stimulus to help the economy during the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)
Now playing
06:43
Trump shares disappointment with Pence in new audio recording
Now playing
01:26
Pelosi just made an unprecedented move. Here's why
Biden town hall vpx
CNN
Biden town hall vpx
Now playing
01:45
Biden reveals what world leaders are asking him about America
Justice Department
Now playing
01:37
Ex-Army Ranger weaponized military training during Capitol riot, judge says
This Morning
Now playing
03:23
See what Ted Cruz is doing to frustrate Republicans and Democrats

Editor’s Note: Peter Bergen is CNN’s national security analyst, a vice president at New America and a professor of practice at Arizona State University. He is completing a book about President Trump’s national security team and policies. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion articles at CNN.

CNN —  

The whistleblower complaint, taken together with the transcript of President Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that was released earlier this week by the White House, explain why Nancy Pelosi is finally getting behind impeachment proceedings: A sitting president appears to have abused his office for political gain, and White House officials allegedly engaged in a cover-up of that effort.

Impeachment proceedings went ahead against President Richard Nixon because he engaged in a cover-up of a break-in at the Democratic Party office at the Watergate, of which he claimed to have no advance knowledge.

As is so often the case in Washington, it was the cover-up that rose to the level of a breach of public trust that was the grounds for impeachment proceedings against Nixon.

In Trump’s case, Democrats in the House can credibly make the case that while in office Trump pressured a foreign leader to dig up dirt on a political opponent, Joe Biden, and his family. President Trump insists he did nothing wrong.

And then Trump officials, realizing that there was something unseemly about the call between Trump and the Ukrainian President made every effort, according to the whistleblower, to “lock down” the transcript of the call by removing the transcript from where these transcripts are generally stored and loading it on a separate computer system where only the most classified and sensitive communications are stored, despite the fact that there was no classified information in the call.

Get our free weekly newsletter

The United States has had an interest in supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty – in particular since Vladimir Putin seized Crimea, a part of Ukraine in 2014 – and continues to support rebels in the eastern half of the country. That US support includes nearly $400 million of military aid that Trump put on hold just before his call with the Ukrainian President.

What is striking is the tone of the whistleblower’s complaint: This is a savvy Washington bureaucrat. This person is quite familiar with the law as it applies to whistleblowers and savvy enough to have presented his/her complaint at an unclassified level (with some classified material in an appendix) so that when it publicly surfaced, as it did Thursday morning, the public could make its own judgments about the nature of the whistleblower’s complaints against President Trump and his enablers.