Likening them to a spy, President Trump said Thursday that he would like to learn the identity of the person or persons in the government who provided a federal whistleblower with information that set in motion the inquiry that could lead to his impeachment.
The Los Angeles Times released audio Thursday of Trump musing over the source of the content of his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on which the whistleblower, in part, based his complaint.
“Basically, that person never saw the report, never saw the call. He never saw the call — heard something and decided that he or she or whoever the hell it is — they’re almost a spy,” Trump said in a recording of a private event on Thursday in New York. “I want to know who’s the person who gave the whistleblower, who’s the person who gave the whistleblower the information? Because that’s close to a spy. You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart, right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”
After learning of Trump’s remarks, former Vice President Joe Biden, who Trump asked Zelensky to investigate, took the president’s comments as a death threat.
“And now we know that President Trump’s response to all of this was to privately issue a thinly veiled threat this morning to execute the national security professionals who followed their oath to uphold the Constitution by bringing this to light,” Biden said in a statement.
For days, the Trump administration and many of its Republican supporters have sought to discredit the whistleblower who submitted the complaint, but acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire said during testimony before the House Intelligence Committee that the whistleblower “acted in good faith throughout” and believed he or she had “done everything by the book and followed the law.”
In the complaint, the whistleblower, whose identity has yet to be made public, alleged that Trump was “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country” in order to gain an advantage in the 2020 presidential election.The whistleblower noted that he or she did not acquire the information regarding the call with Zelensky and the documenting of it first hand; rather, the whistleblower wrote in the complaint, it came from “multiple White House officials with direct knowledge of the call.”If true, that means that members of Trump’s own staff likely leaked it.