TLDRUpFront: For folks heading into the weekend dying to know what this “whistleblower” thing that’s just exploded all over is about, here’s a quick rundown.
FullContext In the Back:
Two weeks ago, the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee Rep Schiff (D) wrote a letter to Acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Maguire. This began getting reported on earlier this week.
The letter is a demand Director Maguire produce the details of a whistle blower complaint that the DNI Inspector General certified as “credible” and “urgent.” This classification of credible and urgent means the complaint has serious risks of national security, ongoing breaches of the law, or misappropriation of Congressional funding. The alleged incident is not of a harassment or employment dispute nature.
According to law (see below though), the DNI either has to produce the details within a set timeline after the IG certifies it or personally appear before Congress to explain why. Director Maguire had not done either, so Rep Schiff wrote him the riot act.
This began getting traction this week first in niche-blog sources (see first comment for all sources) and then generally into ever widening circles of media. It rapidly shifted from a highly technocratic issue to a “big deal” because rumors started swirling that the complaint dealt with senior White House officials, and the President himself. Initially this came about through Maguire’s response in refusing to hand over the complaint, implying that it contained ‘privileged’ material which doesn’t have to be produced to Congress, but gets tricky in these kinds of complaints. (The LawfareBlog link below discusses the law here in much more detail than I can.) Then media began reporting rumors that it was definitely a complaint about senior WH advisors, and the President himself, having to do with Ukraine and Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden. There has been an ongoing well reported public effort by the President’s proxies to link Biden’s family activities with corruption in Ukraine, and thus perhaps torpedo his campaign. The complaint however alleges backroom official communications.
Last night Rudolph “Jessup” Galliano went on CNN and really cocked things up. In a scene straight out of A Few Good Men he first denied he had asked Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden’s family, and then pissed off at CNN Host Cuomo’s questioning did a version of “You’re goddamn right I did!”
Fast forward to today and Trump himself has come out, confirming that he did have a conversation with a Ukrainian official and it did involve candidate Biden, confirming the nature if not substance of the complaint, but assuring reporters he did nothing wrong.
There’s that. And the folks in Area 51 think the weird shit happens in the desert. Enjoy your weekend!
UPDATE: The WSJ came out with a late Friday afternoon report alleging the details of the conversation. I’m posting in the sources a NY Times review since I don’t have access to WSJ.
The allegation boils down to President Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine as part of a negotiating tactic to put pressure on them to investigate the Biden family’s business dealings in the country. If true, this would constitute a serious violation of several laws, the hard limits I described earlier that are in place to constrain a President’s behavior. Where Presidents have skirted these laws in recent memory, it involved working with foreign leaders against known terrorists in questionable practices under Bush and Obama. Acting a foreign power to act against a political opponent already declared in a Presidential election would be significantly beyond that threshold however and take us back to Nixon era tactics.
Additional lawfareblog reporting for context: https://www.lawfareblog.com/unpacking-intelligence-community-whistleblower-complaint
Giuliani’s very bad CNN evening.
And the President, seeing a spotlight, rushes like a moth to the flame…
Original Facebook Post: https://www.facebook.com/tim.clancy.313/posts/10210982122069604