Trump Reacts To Whistleblower Report By Attacking Whistleblowers

The President's initial reaction to the release of the whistleblower complaint is about what you'd expect from a petty dictator.

Maggie Haberman at The New York Times is reporting that the President has reacted to today’s release of the complaint of an intelligence community whistleblower by essentially referring to it as treason and alluding to the fact that treason used to be punishable by the death penalty:

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Thursday morning told a crowd of staff from the United States Mission to the United Nations that he wants to know who provided information to a whistle-blower about his phone call with the president of Ukraine, saying that whoever did so was “close to a spy” and that “in the old days,” spies were dealt with differently.

The remark stunned people in the audience, according to a person briefed on what took place, who had notes of what the president said. Mr. Trump made the statement several minutes into his remarks before the group of about 50 people at the event intended to honor the United States Mission. At the outset, he condemned the former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s role in Ukraine at a time when his son Hunter Biden was on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.

Mr. Trump repeatedly referred to the whistle-blower and condemned the news media reporting on the complaint as “crooked.” He then said the whistle-blower never heard the call in question.

“I want to know who’s the person who gave the whistle-blower the information because that’s close to a spy,” Mr. Trump said. “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart with spies and treason, right? We used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”n

The Los Angeles Times confirms the report and provides audio:

WASHINGTON —  President Trump expressed disgust Thursday morning with the explosive whistleblower complaint, slamming the intelligence officer and the White House aides who helped him or her as “almost a spy” and suggested it was treason.

Speaking at a private event in New York, Trump described reporters as “scum” and raged at the Democrats’ new impeachment proceedings, which were spurred by the whistleblower’s complaint alleging that Trump tried to strong-arm Ukraine’s leader to interfere in the 2020 election.

The still-unidentified whistleblower acknowledged that he did not listen to Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, but cited information from more than half a dozen U.S. officials over the past four months as part of “official interagency business.”

“Basically, that person never saw the report, never saw the call, he never saw the call — heard something and decided that he or she, or whoever the hell they saw — they’re almost a spy,” Trump said.

“I want to know who’s the person, who’s the person who gave the whistleblower the information? Because that’s close to a spy,” he continued. “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”

Trump spoke at a private event at the Intercontinental Hotel in New York, where the president thanked the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, and her staff as he wound up four days of meetings around the U.N. General Assembly.

Here’s the audio:

And here’s video of Trump’s remarks, obtained by Bloomberg and posted to YouTube:

This isn’t entirely out of character for Trump, of course. He frequently lashes out against critics and those who have revealed information that ends up embarrassing him and his Administration. What’s extraordinary is that he made these remarks in front of career diplomatic employees, any one of whom could find themselves in the position of wanting to invoke whistleblower protection because of something they see or learn on the job. He also made the comments in front of foreign diplomats at a function that was supposed to be apolitical. Of course, with this President, there is no function that isn’t political, whether its a speech in front of the wall at CIA headquarters memorializing the men and women in the intelligence community who have died for their country or a speech at the Boy Scout Jamboree. He is always in campaign mode and always attacking and lashing out against anyone who stands against him. It reveals things about his personality that those of us who have been observing him since the 1980s, that he is basically a narcissist who cares about nobody and nothing other than himself. As is often the case with such people who seek political power, he has also revealed himself to be a tyrant who considers anyone who opposes him, including the press, to be an “enemy of the people,” a phrase originated, of course, by Joseph Stalin.

I’m sure that this won’t be the last we’ll hear from the President about the transcript and complaint and the truths it reveals about what he did. For the past several days, he has seemed more and more like a man who is angry, cornered, and who now realizes that he may have handed his political rivals the evidence they need to weaken him even further, or possibly take the ultimate step to remove him from office. Like any wounded animal, we can expect him to lash out more and more, most likely through his Twitter account. So stay tuned, because this is about to get even wilder I believe.

This post was updated to include the report and audio from the L.A. Times. The post was further updated to include video of the President’s remarks obtained by Bloomberg.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Impeachment, Intelligence, National Security, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook


  1. dennis says:

    Can all the lawyers on the thread explain how this is NOT witness intimidation? I mean, the president of the United States exercising extraordinary powers, and all . . .

  2. Jay L Gischer says:

    So stay tuned, because this is about to get even wilder I believe.

    Your belief is well-founded.

  3. KM says:

    “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart with spies and treason, right? We used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”

    OK, this? Is more then just lashing out. This is verging on asking why the whistleblower hasn’t been whacked yet. Consider who he’s befriended in past (mobsters, tyrants and flat-out murderous leaders) as well as his own tendencies to deal with problems, this isn’t just his normal idle verbal diarrhea. This is a wanna capo demanding somebody bring him the rat while still trying to not explicitly state it.

    Whistleblower needs to watch their back. I hear polonium poisoning is all the rage now to “deal” with “spies” like in the “old days”…..

  4. HarvardLaw92 says:

    “L’etat, c’est moi”, indeed.

    Classic narcissist. Elect a clown, get a circus

  5. mattbernius says:

    He is officially JKB’s spirit animal.

  6. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    So his threat seemed to be to people on his staff that talked to the Whistle Blower…but in the meantime Michael Schmidt of the NY Times is publishing details about the Whistle Blowers identity.
    Pay attention, folks…you are watching capital H – History.

  7. michael reynolds says:

    The pleasure I take reading Trump’s fear-sweat drenched Twitter feed borders on the sexual.

    I don’t know how #Cult45 drones deal with the obvious fact that whatever Trump’s crimes he’s such a fking coward. Dear Leader is a weakling, a wimp, a pussy. It’s hard to get my head around what kind of person would be happy to grovel to this creep, I mean, grovel to Stalin, OK, Stalin would kill you as soon as look at you. But this buffoon? This is the ass these people choose to lick?

  8. mattbernius says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The pleasure I take reading Trump’s fear-sweat drenched Twitter feed borders on the sexual.

    You are a man of unique (and slightly distressing) tastes, Michael.

  9. Teve says:

    A lawyer friend of mine in Chicago took the day off work and is parked in front of CNN and just texted that she had eaten an entire box of mac and cheese.

  10. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The pleasure I take reading Trump’s fear-sweat drenched Twitter feed borders on the sexual.

    And I thought I was into some kink…whoa…

  11. Fortunato says:

    On the topic of whistleblowers, I found the following to elicit an ‘of course’, moment:

    Charlie Savage (NYT)
    @charlie_savage 3h
    Twist on catch-and-kill: DOJ telling ODNI “don’t show whistleblower complaint to Congress; instead refer it to DOJ bc it alleges campaign-finance crime” & then swiftly closing case, echoes National Enquirer purchasing-but-then-not-publishing stories re Trump extramarital affairs

    Bill Barr = David Pecker.

  12. Stormy Dragon says:
  13. mattbernius says:

    The LA Times apparently got the audio from the event. It’s behind a firewall, so I haven’t listened to it…

  14. mattbernius says:

    And here is the clip on YouTube:

    Michael, you might want to have access to a cold shower before listening.

  15. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    It took me a while to absorb this–and I still haven’t completely–but cultists don’t see what we see, which is a cowardly, swinish bully/buffoon of limited intellect. What they see is a Daddy/Savior figure, a fighter who’s on their side. The latter is very important to understanding the unquestioning love they have for him.

    He’s their daddy and their savior and protector.

  16. Jen says:

    This is beyond the pale, even for him. I hope whomever this is has a protection detail, because this is dangerous ground on which to tread. That “vanifesto” guy isn’t the only one out there who takes this sort of thing as a request.

    I guess just keep pushing ahead. Guliani certainly seems like he is cracking.

  17. mattbernius says:

    Guliani certainly seems like he is cracking.

    The best part is wondering if/when Trump will try to throw him under the bus.

    Because unlike everyone else, I can’t see Guliani going easily or quietly.

  18. Blue Galangal says:

    @Jen: And the NYT is publishing specifics about the WB. I just… I have no subscription left to cancel but I hope this means the end of Baquet.

  19. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    @dennis: It clearly is witness intimidation and obstruction of justice. Unfortunately the Mueller case proved that apparently that doesn’t matter to enough of the public to count any more.

    A spy giving information to a foreign country is treason; Trump (as usual) cannot differentiate between his interests and our country’s interests; therefore someone supplying information he considers confidential to someone else is also treason. Also classic mob/snitch thinking. It’s simply who he is. And he’s always gotten away with it in the past, including over the last couple years, so he’s not going to change now.

  20. Kathy says:

    This teaches us two things about El Cheeto:

    1) He hasn’t read the Whistleblower’s report, or he’d know the information in it came from multiple people.

    2) When he finds himself deep in a hole, his M.O. is to dig harder.

  21. Slugger says:

    I may have become a painfully total pedant, but An Enemy of the People was written by Ibsen in 1882.

  22. I have updated this post to include the report from the LA Times and audio of the President’s remarks

  23. Paul L. says:

    IMPEACH Trump!
    You get minions to attack the whistle blower.

    then ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson told the Baltimore ATF Field Division in a town hall style meeting Dodson was merely a “disgruntled” employee and alluded to him being a nut case…
    “Dennis regrets his role in disclosing the memo but he’s a stand-up guy and is willing to take responsibility for what he did. It was absolutely not Dennis’s intent to retaliate against Special Agent Dodson or anyone else for the information they provided Congress.”…
    we’ve seen the undeniable collaboration between the Soros funded left-wing smear machine Media Matters and DOJ Public Affairs Chief Tracy Schmaler to attack journalists. Coincidentally, Schmaler is suspected of leaking information about Dodson in an effort to save her boss Eric Holder and to destroy his credibility. Eban obtained Dodson’s confidential personnel file for her Fortune story; Schmaler is suspected to be the one who gave it to her.

  24. Jen says:

    Oh, good. Paul’s here to dish out some both-sider-ism.

    @Blue Galangal: The scary thing about the NYT publishing details is that, I believe, analysts aren’t generally under the same level of cover as those in operations are, so it’d be fairly simple for anyone who knows the whistle-blower and his area of expertise to figure this out.

    And, not to parse things out too much, but it actually sounds like Trump is after his own staff here:

    “I want to know who’s the person who gave the whistle-blower the information because that’s close to a spy,” Mr. Trump told staff members

    Emphasis added. The call is coming from inside the building, Mr. President.

  25. CSK says:

    @Kathy: He may have glanced at it, Kathy. But he doesn’t read. He lacks the attention span. And he can’t absorb printed material anyway.

  26. Gustopher says:

    @Paul L.: Perhaps the problem isn’t the whistleblowers, perhaps it’s the whistles.

    Speaking of whistles,

    Soros funded left-wing smear machine Media Matters

    So, it’s the Jews.

  27. Scott F. says:

    What’s extraordinary is that he made these remarks in front of career diplomatic employees, any one of whom could find themselves in the position of wanting to invoke whistleblower protection because of something they see or learn on the job.

    Trump was also apparently incredulous that releasing the phone call “transcript” didn’t end the move towards impeachment. The Donald clearly is completely convinced that he has done and can do no wrong as a person and as president. The scale of narcissism on display here is uncharted.

  28. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Paul L.:
    FFS…You keep pointing to a thing started under a Republican, that was investigated ad nauseum by Republicans, and came to NOTHING!!! And the best you have is a 7 year old column by a RWNJ that no one has ever heard of.
    Go the fuq away you silly child.

  29. michael reynolds says:

    @Paul L.:
    1) The guy bringing the complaint forward, Mr. Maguire, is a Trump appointee.

    2) The guy who made the complaint is a CIA analyst.

    3) The Intel Community Inspector General – Michael K. Atkinson – is a Trump appointee who found the complaint credible and urgent.

    So you go right on yelling Jew, Jew! you contemptible anti-semite twat, but this whole thing is Trump’s people informing on Trump’s crimes.

  30. JohnSF says:

    @Paul L.:
    My word, Mr Soros is certainly the active gentleman, isn’t he.
    According to various reasonable persons here on the east side of the pond, he’s been at it funding the litigants and bribing the judges in the prorogation case.
    And such sensible persons are so annoyed that Jolyon Maugham QC has been advised to wear a stab-proof vest, and Gina Miller has a round-the-clock police protection detail.

    Busy, busy, busy, eh, Mr. Soros.

    Or, alternatively, it could all be a load of bollocks.

  31. KM says:

    @Scott F. @Just Another Ex-Republican:
    Thou shalt not speak ill of thy King lest thou fearest for thy head. Lèse-majesté, if MAGAts spoke any language other then IgnorantMOFO. He really and truly thinks that because it makes him look bad, it’s “spying” and “treason” but he can’t possibly commit treachery himself since he’s the damn God-Emperor President.

    If he were even the slightest bit more competent at being evil, the whistleblower and co would be dead by now. Thank God he’s so stupid he can’t be Putin-lite even in his fantasies. Still, even Chaotic Stupid needs to be guarded against. I wonder how much taxpayer money is going to go to protect citizens of the United States and their families from harm incited by their President?

  32. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: “I mean, grovel to Stalin, OK, Stalin would kill you as soon as look at you.”

    Stalin never bothered to ask Ukraine for a favor. He just starved millions of its people to death.

  33. Kathy says:

    “I would have gotten away with it, if it wasn’t for those meddling whistleblowers!”

  34. wr says:

    @mattbernius: “Because unlike everyone else, I can’t see Guliani going easily or quietly.”

    Giuliani has already announced he’s got texts from the State Department telling him what to do — just in case anyone decides to throw him under the bus…

  35. Jen says:

    The Washington Examiner is reporting that Jacob Wohl and some other Trump supporter whose name doesn’t ring a bell (Jack Burkman?) are offering $50K to whomever “outs” the whistleblower.

    (Isn’t that a crime? It feels like it should be.)

    This is appalling.

  36. Teve says:

    @Jen: I’m amazed Wohl isn’t in jail for trying to pay women to make accusations against Mueller. But I thought there was some kind of warrant on him for securities fraud in California or something now.

  37. Paul L. says:

    @Gustopher: michael reynolds
    Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein are Jews.
    So any negative criticism of them is anti-Semitic?

  38. michael reynolds says:

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that the GOP wagon train might not exactly form a complete circle around Trump. There are a number of Republicans – little Marco comes to mind – who’ve toadied a man they know is a POS because they feared voters. But I suspect Marco wouldn’t mind putting a shiv in Donny if he thinks he can get away with it.

    The thing about these charges is that a Marco or a Romney can latch on without having to necessarily admit to the previous thousand or so impeachable offenses. They may just see this as a liberation with reduced consequences. We will likely start with 47 votes in the Senate to convict. We need another 20. I doubt we’ll get to 20, but a majority vote to convict is possible.

    And more rats will be hopping off the Trumptanic. I expect more whistleblowers.

    At that point Trump will have been impeached. A majority will have found him guilty. And if anyone thinks that helps Trump, stop bogarting that joint and pass it to me.

  39. michael reynolds says:

    @Paul L.:
    Fk off.

  40. grumpy realist says:
  41. mattbernius says:

    Everyone, look, we need to be really nice to Paul L. I mean, the fact that whataboutism or arguing insignificant details is all he can do at this moment is a sign that even he realizes that there’s something different about this one.

  42. CSK says:

    Good piece: In, Jonathan V. Last’s “The President of the United States is Unwell.”

    So is “Memo to Trump,” by Benjamin Parker.

  43. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:


    even he realizes that there’s something different about this one.

    Nope…he will be the last to realize. Trump will be back in his gaudy NY digs, mounting a defense of tax evasion against the SDNY, and Paul will still be arguing that the tan WAS NOT fake!!!

  44. Teve says:

    a speech at the Boy Scout Jamboree.

    hey, you got to admit, that when he told the boy scouts that his friend got rich and successful and bought a Bang Boat, that was funny.

    What’s not funny is that 37 second clip above where Trump talks about killing the whistleblower. He should be impeached for that alone.

    30 Republican Senators are not up for reelection next year. 21 of them could conceivably vote with the Dems to convict…

  45. Teve says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Paul will still be arguing that the tan WAS NOT fake!!!

    Whatabout George Hamilton?!?!?

  46. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist: The loyalty Trump’s discarded minions show toward him is astounding, is it not?

  47. Scott F. says:

    Part of my point is that Trump’s fathomless narcissism extends beyond “Lèse-majesté” as he’s been convinced of his superiority since well before his inexplicable election. There’s no other way to explain all his past comments along the lines of “past Presidents were so stupid” or “only I could have solved this” than the simple truth that he is absolutely certain he’s the smartest guy in the history of smart guys. How unbelievably stupid does someone have to be to not only not know they are stupid but to believe their stupidity is brilliance?

  48. CSK says:

    According to the Washington Examiner, Trump wants the execrable Corey Lewandowski to lead his impeachment team.

    Ianls and Jared won’t be very happy.

  49. Gustopher says:

    @Paul L.: The random name dropping of Soros as the shady source behind things is pretty much the modern antisemite’s playbook.

    I offer no strong opinion as to whether you are personally an antisemite, whether you regularly wallow in cesspools of antisemitism, or whether you don’t read closely and accidentally quoted an antisemetic dog whistle.

    Perhaps the only folks who cannot hear the dog whistle are the dogs.

  50. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Remember when Obama wore a tan suit?
    Or used a selfie stick in the Oval Office?
    Glad those chaotic days are no more….

  51. Gromitt Gunn says:

    This is right from the “inviting Russia to investigate Clinton’s emails during the debate” playbook. He is incapable of stopping himself from making these statements.

  52. Teve says:
  53. Teve says:

    Trump allies: maybe we shouldn’t have released that transcript. They’re so detached from reality they all had a meeting and reviewed the ‘transcript’ and said yep this sure proves Trump is innocent, send it out!

  54. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Just to be picky, the phrase predates Stalin because Ibsen wrote a play called An Enemy of the People in 1882. I realize that “a phrase used by Ibsen” doesn’t carry the punch of the Stalin association, though and we certainly need to vilify Trump as much as we can. Dishonesty/ignorance in the service of politics is no vice.

    (I think a famous founding father said that. Well something sorta like it anyway.)

  55. CSK says:

    @Gustopher: There’s a frequent poster over at Lucianne,com, the beating heart of Cult Trump, whose screen name is “sorosisbehindit.”

    Get it? Soros. Is. Behind. It.

  56. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Slugger: Wow! I scanned the comments before posting twice and still missed your comment. Never fear though–I out-pedanted you by some significant distance. (And probably identified myself as another “enemy of the people” depending on whose “people” one wants to talk about.)

  57. An Interested Party says:

    I guess I shouldn’t be, but I continue to be amazed at the obliviousness of the conservative ecosphere…they continue to defend this and say it’s nothing at all…I mean, FDR interned Japanese-Americans, all Trump did was make a phone call…as if there is any comparison to be made between the greatest president of the 20th century and this grifting white trash…

  58. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: Goooooooooooooal!!!!! 😀

  59. EddieInCA says:

    One of the things that depresses me daily is that I’ll never be as smart or creative as Andy Borowitz.

    Here he was day before yesterday:

    Freaking brilliant.

  60. EddieInCA says:

    Also, seen on the interwebs today:

    Mexico has agreed to pay for Trump’s Impeachment.

  61. Teve says:

    @An Interested Party:

    “Whatabout FDR?” Dang I did NOT see that one coming!

  62. Kathy says:
  63. Kathy says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Well, if they want to posthumously impeach Roosevelt and remove him from an office he vacated decades ago, they are welcome to try.

    For the record, FDR’s internment of American citizens of Japanese ancestry was racist, wrong, and unnecessary, and Roosevelt deserves condemnation for that, and he didn’t do it to gain an electoral advantage over his opponent.

  64. An Interested Party says:
  65. Teve says:

    David Brooks’s new column says impeaching Trump would be elitist because it takes the choice away from the voters and puts it in the hands of millionaire Senators.

    What a loser dumbass.

  66. An Interested Party says:

    So this is what conservatives have been reduced to…spouting ridiculous talking points, playing the worst version of Whataboutism that you’ll ever see, and trying to deflect criticism by playing another game, I Know You Are But What Am I…all in an attempt to protect a loathsome, repulsive conman who isn’t conservative in any way…quite the spectacle to behold…

  67. de stijl says:

    Trump’s mentor was Roy Cohn. That informs every action he takes.

  68. Teve says:


    When you don’t like the answer democracy gives you: “We’re not a democracy we’re a republic!”

    When you don’t like the answer the Republic might give you: “Republics are elitist!”

  69. For those interested, I have further updated the post to include what appears to be smartphone video of the President’s remarks obtained by Bloomberg.