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.