The New York Times has reported greater detail of how the Intelligence Community whistleblower went about bringing his complaint. We already knew, from previous reporting, that he or she first tried to go through the anonymous internal whistleblower complaint hotline at their own, home agency. This then triggered that agency’s counsel to coordinate with the White House Counsel’s Office, the National Security Council Counsel’s Office, and the Department of Justice. When the whistleblower learned of this, he or she decided they needed to find a way to get the concerns before Congress as soon as possible and this is where today’s New York Times‘ reporting starts off:
The Democratic head of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, learned about the outlines of a C.I.A. officer’s concerns that President Trump had abused his power days before the officer filed a whistle-blower complaint, according to a spokesman and current and former American officials.
The early account by the future whistle-blower shows how determined he was to make known his allegations that Mr. Trump asked Ukraine’s government to interfere on his behalf in the 2020 election. It also explains how Mr. Schiff knew to press for the complaint when the Trump administration initially blocked lawmakers from seeing it.
The C.I.A. officer approached a House Intelligence Committee aide with his concerns about Mr. Trump only after he had had a colleague first convey them to the C.I.A.’s top lawyer. Concerned about how that initial avenue for airing his allegations through the C.I.A. was unfolding, the officer then approached the House aide. In both cases, the original accusation was vague.
The House staff member, following the committee’s procedures, suggested the officer find a lawyer to advise him and file a whistle-blower complaint. The aide shared some of what the officer conveyed to Mr. Schiff. The aide did not share the whistle-blower’s identity with Mr. Schiff, an official said.
“Like other whistle-blowers have done before and since under Republican and Democratic-controlled committees, the whistle-blower contacted the committee for guidance on how to report possible wrongdoing within the jurisdiction of the intelligence community,” said Patrick Boland, a spokesman for Mr. Schiff.
Mr. Schiff’s aides followed procedures involving the C.I.A. officer’s accusations, Mr. Boland said. They referred the C.I.A. officer to an inspector general and advised him to seek legal counsel.
Mr. Schiff never saw any part of the complaint or knew precisely what the whistle-blower would deliver, Mr. Boland said.
“At no point did the committee review or receive the complaint in advance,” he said. He said the committee received the complaint the night before releasing it publicly last week and noted that came three weeks after the administration was legally mandated to turn it over to Congress. The director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, acting on the advice of his top lawyer and the Justice Department, had blocked the inspector general for the intelligence community, Michael Atkinson, from turning over the complaint sooner.
Much more at the link, some of it previously reported.
There’s nothing actually shocking here. The whistleblower, concerned he needed to get the information to Congress ASAP, approached a House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to seek guidance on how to do so. That staffer told the whistleblower to make a formal complaint under the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act (ICWPA) to the appropriate inspector general – either the IG at their own agency or the Intelligence Community Inspector General. This is what the whistleblower did. He or she filed the complaint with Mark Atkinson, the Intelligence Community Inspector general.
Brad Moss, a national security lawyer who works with Mark Zaid, who is currently of counsel for the whistleblower’s attorney Andrew Bakaj, and who is walled off from the case so he can publicly comment, provides the Office of the Director of National Intelligence guidance for bringing a whistleblower complaint.
For everyone reviewing that NYT piece and screaming "oh my lord, the WBer went to the HPSCI initially before the IG!?!", here is the relevant DNI guidance on "protected disclosures".
See something familiar in terms of which entities can be approached? pic.twitter.com/Tvc1EOBgr3
— Bradley P. Moss (@BradMossEsq) October 2, 2019
So while The New York Times‘ reporting is interesting, as it fleshes out the timeline and presents more context for all of us, there’s nothing irregular, strange, unprofessional, unethical, and/or illegal here. Enter Fox News’ John Roberts. Roberts had the first two questions at the President’s 2 PM EDT press conference. His second question teed the President up by framing this new reporting as a conspiracy between Congressman Schiff and the whistleblower, intimating that Congressman Schiff actually directed the complaint, fabricated the key accusations, and basically created his own need for oversight to drive impeachment. The President, as I’m sure you’re shocked to learn, took Roberts’ line of bullshit and ran with it.
Fox News gets the first question and Trump immediately goes on a lengthy rant. He ultimately accuses Adam Schiff of "a criminal act" and "treason." pic.twitter.com/97fJSFs6SQ
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 2, 2019
Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority Leader, is already pushing the President’s and John Robert’s take on The New York Times‘ reporting.
BREAKING –> Chairman Adam Schiff just got caught orchestrating with the whistleblower before the complaint was ever filed. Democrats have rigged this process from the start.https://t.co/oMdSGByYtf
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) October 2, 2019
As has RNC Chair Ronna
This is a stunning indictment of this impeachment charade.
Schiff got a heads up on all this.
His team then advised the “whistleblower” how to proceed, like getting a Clinton/Schumer lawyer who donated to Biden.
Who’s colluding now?https://t.co/qLDM3AYHmO
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) October 2, 2019
If I had to make a professional estimate, as soon as The New York Times‘ story was reported, a set of disinformation talking points was prepared and quickly circulated throughout the Republican, movement conservative, and conservative news and digital information media ecosystems framing the reporting this way. This is why Roberts’ framed the reporting in the way he did, in line with the disinformation now being pushed, which was done to tee up the President’s response at the press conference.
We’ve just watched the disinformation process in real time.
And Congressman Schiff has decided to push back directly on the disinformation.
When a whistleblower seeks guidance, staff advises them to get counsel and go to an IG.
That’s what they’re supposed to do.
Unlike a president pressing a foreign leader to dig up dirt on a political opponent.
That’s not what a president is supposed to do.
And we all know it. https://t.co/dzVAFGpMen
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) October 2, 2019