October 1, 2019


Intelligence Inspector General to GOP: You Know Nothing of My Work (Jonathan Chait, 10/01/19, New York)

Last Thursday, Sean Davis of the conservative news site The Federalist broke an explosive revelation. The Intelligence Community had secretly changed a requirement in its whistle-blower statute to allow whistle-blowers to report secondhand allegations, whereas firsthand knowledge had been required before. This suspicious rule change allegedly allowed the whistle-blower to accuse President Trump of misconduct despite lacking firsthand knowledge of said conduct. The shocking exposure of yet another Deep State plot quickly became the foundation for Trump's defenders as they fanned out across the media.

"The hearsay rule was changed just a short period of time before the complaint was filed," claimed Senator Lindsey Graham. The whistle-blower "has no firsthand knowledge," charged Congressman Jim Jordan on CNN, and when host Jake Tapper noted that firsthand knowledge is not required to file a complaint, Jordan shot back that this was only "because they changed the form. You used to." Meanwhile, Trump demanded, in all caps, "WHO CHANGED THE LONG STANDING WHISTLEBLOWER RULES JUST BEFORE SUBMITTAL OF THE FAKE WHISTLEBLOWER REPORT?"

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy claimed, "Just days before the Ukraine whistleblower came forward, the IC secretly removed that requirement from the complaint form," and promised that Republicans would "not rest until we have answers."

They had answers. They just didn't like them. Actual experts in intelligence law immediately pointed out that Davis's reporting was false and was based on a simple misreading of a change in the wording of a form.

Then yesterday, the Intelligence Community's inspector general, Trump appointee Michael Atkinson, posted a short statement online correcting Davis. Using heavily bureaucratized language and the patient and polite tone city officials use to assure the local gadfly that the water department is not sending alien nodes through his plumbing, the I.G. made a few basic points. First, the rules governing whistle-blowers have not changed. At all.

Those dang IG's, they were the great White hope!

Posted by at October 1, 2019 8:54 PM