Ukraine-gate: Complaint form revised just days ahead of impeachment proceedings
There is a strange coincidence regarding the recent whistleblower complaint filed by a CIA officer against President Trump and a revised complaint form.
Published: September 29, 2019, 10:39 am
Between May 2018 and August 2019, the intelligence community secretly eliminated a requirement that whistleblowers provide direct, first-hand knowledge of alleged wrongdoings.
Here is something seriously strange. The Disclosure of Urgent Concern Form located earlier today at DNI is only two days old according to its pdf properties. https://t.co/l8foAAj2sC pic.twitter.com/0iwXTxcgIv
— Stephen McIntyre (@ClimateAudit) September 27, 2019
Until very recently the intelligence community complaint form required that any claimant had to have first hand knowledge of the complain issue. Federal records show that the CIA had secretly revised the form in August but uploaded only on September 24 to also allow for hearsay as a legal basis.
The CIA officer who filed the complaint that led to the impeachment being launched against the incumbent leader, had no direct evidence or knowledge of the events in Ukraine, and was only relying on hearsay and rumour.
This raises serious questions about the intelligence community’s real interest in submitting a whistleblower complaint against Trump and has reinforced suspicions that the complaint is part of a larger intelligence operation.
According to the whistleblower statute, the matter in question must be an “urgent concern” that is defined as “a serious or flagrant problem, abuse, violation of law or Executive order, or deficiency relating to the funding, administration, or operations of an intelligence activity involving classified information, but does not include differences of opinions concerning public policy matters”.
The CIA officer claims that Trump called President Vladimir Zelensky of the Ukraine to press Zelensky to investigate two issues. He heard about this from other people and was neither party to the phone conversation nor did he have access to the transcript. Instead, he cited media as “corroboration” for his allegations.
The previous version of the whistleblower complaint document, had required that any complaint must contain only first-hand knowledge of alleged wrongdoing and that complaints that provide only hearsay, rumor, or gossip would be rejected.
“If you think that wrongdoing took place, but can provide nothing more than second-hand or unsubstantiated assertions, [the Intelligence Community Inspector General] will not be able to process the complaint or information for submission as an ICWPA,” the form stated in conclusion.
The internal properties of the newly revised “Disclosure of Urgent Concern” form, which Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) requires to be submitted under the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act (ICWPA), show that the document was uploaded just days before the anti-Trump complaint was made public.
The White House call memorandum has since been declassified and published suggesting that President Trump does not have anything to hide.
Moreover, the egregious conduct of the whistleblower is matched only by the incompetence of the agency’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson, who quickly notified Congress that the complaint existed. And when the factually incorrect hearsay complaint was filed, he dutifully handed it over instead of filing it in the rubbish bin.
The CIA officer alleged that Trump demanded that Ukraine hand over servers which may be related to ongoing investigations of foreign interference in the 2016 elections, but the transcript of the call between Trump and Zelensky shows that no such a request was made.
Furthermore it was falsely claimed that Trump told Zelensky that he should keep the prosecutor general at the time, Yuriy Lutsenko, but the transcript showed nothing of the sort.
Also, the original ICIG requirements for “urgent concern” submissions are surprising as the CIA officer cites various publicly available news articles as proof of his allegations.
The Democrats and the CIA officer may have been counting on Trump to claim executive privilege on his conversation with Ukrainian President Zelensky and, based on the same privilege, withhold the transcript.
What is clear, is that at no time did President Trump demand that Ukraine intervene in the 2020 US election or actions to prevent Joe Biden from running for the Democratic Party nomination.
Trump’s request was specifically about what happened in light of Joe Biden’s public claim that he used the threat of withholding aid from Ukraine unless they fired the Ukrainian prosecutor who was busy investigating the company that hired his son, Hunter.
According to The Federalist, in a legal opinion released together with the phone call transcript, the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) noted that because the CIA officer’s submission was statutorily deficient, Congress would not require a submission. The White House nonetheless declassified and released the document to Congress on Wednesday.
“The complaint does not arise in connection with the operation of any US government intelligence activity, and the alleged misconduct does not involve any member of the intelligence community,” the legal opinion highlighted.
“The question is whether such a complaint falls within the statutory definition of ‘urgent concern’ that the law requires the DNI to forward to the intelligence committees,” the OLC opinion added. “We conclude that it does not.”
When contacted by The Federalist, a National Intelligence official refused to comment on the secret revision to the whistleblower form, including when it was revised to eliminate the requirement of first-hand knowledge and for what reason.
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