President’s Attacks on Intelligence Community Whistleblower Threaten National Security and Accountability

Sep 20, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (Sept. 20, 2019)—Today, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff, Committee on Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah E. Cummings, Committee on the Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, and Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot L. Engel issued the following statement in response to President Donald Trump personally attacking an Intelligence Community (IC) whistleblower just days after the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) assured Congress that the individual would be protected against “any retaliation or adverse consequence”:

“President Trump just went on national television—from the Oval Office—and personally attacked an Intelligence Community whistleblower who reported an urgent matter involving serious or flagrant misconduct.

“The President’s claim that the whistleblower’s complaint is a ‘political hack job’ made by a ‘partisan person’ directly contradicts the conclusions of the independent Inspector General—who was appointed by the President himself—warning that this matter is an ‘urgent concern’ that relates directly to ‘one of the most significant and important of the DNI’s responsibilities to the American people.’

“The President’s brazen effort to intimidate this whistleblower risks a chilling effect on future whistleblowers, with grave consequences for our democracy and national security. Wrongdoing, waste, fraud and abuse may go unreported, and whistleblowers who can no longer trust established channels may seek to take the law in their own hands.

We call on the Administration to immediately deliver the whistleblower’s complaint to the Intelligence Committee and halt all further attacks against this individual.”

On Tuesday, the DNI sent a letter to Congress through his General Counsel with these assurances:

“The DNI also takes seriously his obligation to protect whistleblowers from retaliation and pledges to continue to do so.  The complainant here raised a matter with the ICIG.  The ICIG has protected the complainant’s identity from others within ODNI, and we will not permit the complainant to be subject to any retaliation or adverse consequence based upon his or her communicating the complaint to the ICIG.”

Despite this promise, today the President claimed during his press conference at the White House:  “It’s just another political hack job.”  He added:  “I don’t know the identity of the whistleblower.  I just hear it’s a partisan person, meaning it comes out from another party.”  The President did not explain who is providing him information about the whistleblower, which the Inspector General has made clear is protected information.

The President’s attacks today came after the President tweeted earlier this morning that the “highly partisan” allegation came from “Radical Left Democrats and their Fake News Media partners.”

The President’s claim of partisan motivations is directly contradicted by the Inspector General—appointed by the President himself—who wrote a letter to the Intelligence Committee on Tuesday concluding:

“I set forth the reasons for my concluding that the subject matter involved in the Complainant’s disclosure not only falls within the DNI’s jurisdiction, but relates to one of the most significant and important of the DNI’s responsibilities to the American people.”

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116th Congress