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Colorado School Of Mines Historian Calls White House's Declassified Transcript 'Earth-Shattering'

GOLDEN, Colo. (CBS4) - Professor Ken Osgood has read thousands of declassified documents and hundreds of presidential conversation transcripts, but he says what was released by the White House on Wednesday is unlike anything he's seen before.

CBS4's Jeff Todd interviews Ken Osgood. (credit: CBS)

"When I saw this document this morning, ... I realized that this was one of the most earth-shattering political moments that I may witness," said Osgood, now a history professor at the Colorado School of Mines. "Everyone should recognize it's a serious moment for our democracy when we have someone in such a grave position of power seeking to use that power to damage a political opponent. It should worry us all. "

(credit: CBS)

When Osgood started his career, he worked for the State Department on the Ukraine desk. Decades later, he has written several books and focused his research on propaganda and intelligence as tools of foreign policy.

"In this case, I can think of no other example in all of American history where a sitting U.S. president used the office to try and get another country help our country in an internal investigation related to a president's political opponents. That part is really, really remarkable."

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky and President Donald Trump (credit: CBS)

Osgood says he's read presidential transcripts dating back to more than half a century ago when they were written by hand.

"Transcripts between world leaders or between governments are often classified as a matter of routine. typically to prevent embarrassment in order to have a candid conversation," he said. "The use of, sort of abuses of presidential power, to stir up dirt on political opponents itself is not new at all. What is new is reaching out to a foreign leader and then using all the power of the presidency to pressure that foreign leader to use their powers to dig up dirt to help in our election. That's a different kind of corruption a different kind of abuse of power than I've ever seen or heard about."

(credit: CBS)

What was made public on Wednesday -- the notes on a conversation between the presidents of the United States and Ukraine -- is just a piece of this impeachment inquiry story. There could be much more information Colorado's Congressional delegation will find out as testimony from the whistleblower is expected in the coming days.

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