Sep 27, 2019

N.Y. Times defends decision to publish whistleblower ID details

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The New York Times defended its decision to publish a story identifying the whistleblower as a male CIA officer, as executive editor Dean Baquet said it reported "limited information" about his identity so readers could "make their own judgments about whether or not he is credible."

The big picture: Federal whistleblowers are protected by law. Readers and some in the national intelligence community expressed concern that revealing too much detail in media reports could put the officer's life and reputation in danger and deter future whistleblowers.

What we know: AP confirmed the NYT report. The timeline of the officer's complaint raises questions regarding how the White House and the Justice Department handled it, per AP.

  • The CIA officer initially filed the complaint to the CIA, which notified the White House and Justice Department. On Aug. 12, the whistleblower was granted more legal protections after he flagged the intelligence community's inspector general.
  • The administration initially blocked Congress from viewing the whistleblower's complaint — as is usually required under federal whistleblower statutes when a complaint is marked as of "urgent concern" — citing a Justice Department decision.
  • A redacted version of the complaint and the White House's memo of President Trump's conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky were eventually made public this week.

What they're saying:

  • Baquet: "We decided to publish limited information about the whistleblower — including the fact that he works for a nonpolitical agency and that his complaint is based on an intimate knowledge and understanding of the White House — because we wanted to provide information to readers that allows them to make their own judgments about whether or not he is credible."
  • AP: "The Associated Press is publishing information about the whistleblower's background because the person's credibility is central to the impeachment inquiry into the president."

Go deeper: 300+ former national security officials condemn Trump-Ukraine actions

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Congressional Republicans take aim at whistleblower complaint

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Republicans are already treating the whistleblower's complaint the way they did the Mueller report: several Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham and Reps. Andy Biggs, Matt Gaetz, and Dan Crenshaw called the whistleblower’s credibility into question.

The tactics, per the AP's Jonathan Lemire and Zeke Miller: "Attempt to discredit government officials at the heart of the story. Dispatch Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and other allies to muddy the picture. Lean on Republicans in Congress to provide cover."

Go deeperArrowSep 27, 2019

Trump wants to interview whistleblower despite federal protections

President Trump tweeted Tuesday that he wants to interview and "learn everything about" the Ukraine whistleblower, despite protections guaranteed under federal law.

"So if the so-called 'Whistleblower' has all second hand information, and almost everything he has said about my 'perfect' call with the Ukrainian President is wrong (much to the embarrassment of Pelosi & Schiff), why aren’t we entitled to interview & learn everything about the Whistleblower, and also the person who gave all of the false information to him.
Go deeperArrowOct 1, 2019

Intelligence community watchdog refutes Trump's whistleblower claims

President Trump arrives for a press conference in New York, Sept. 25. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

The intelligence community inspector general issued a statement Monday refuting false claims by President Trump and his allies about the whistleblower whose complaint on Trump's interactions with Ukraine triggered a formal impeachment inquiry.

Why it matters: It's rare for the Office of the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community to issue such a statement. But it did so after the president and loyalist lawmakers made false claims while attacking the whistleblower's credibility over the complaint concerning Trump urging Ukraine to investigate his political rival Joe Biden and his family.

Go deeperArrowOct 1, 2019