NYT Defends Publishing Details on Whistleblower

Sources say intelligence officer submitted concerns to CIA first
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 27, 2019 6:59 AM CDT

(Newser) – The Trump whistleblower took his concerns about the president's dealings with Ukraine to the CIA general counsel before deciding to file a formal complaint, reports the New York Times, which cites multiple sources. The sources say the whistleblower submitted an anonymous complaint to the general counsel, Courtney Simmons Elwood, within a week of President Trump's phone conversation with Ukraine's president, but decided the CIA wasn't taking the allegations seriously, especially after finding out numerous White House officials were in the loop (though the Times notes Elwood followed policy in bringing the allegations to White House and DOJ officials). The whistleblower, who is a male CIA officer, according to the Times, then submitted a complaint to the intelligence community's inspector general, a move that provided him with more legal protections. More:

  • Why the NYT published details. New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet, responding to concerned readers, says the newspaper decided to publish "limited details" about the whistleblower because Trump and others have attacked his credibility and "we wanted to provide information to readers that allows them to make their own judgments about whether or not he is credible."
  • The timeline. Insiders have provided the AP with a timeline of how the information on the complaint made its way through the administration and the Justice Department.

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  • Harris: Trump "sounds like a criminal." Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris says Trump's attacks on the whistleblower make the president sound like a criminal. 'Who snitched? Who gave up the goods? Let's find out who gave up the goods on us and make sure there's a consequence and it's serious and let that be a lesson to everybody else,'" she during an MSNBC interview Thursday. "It sounds like it's straight out of some bad drama, but the fact is, this is the president of the United States," she said.
  • Republicans want to expose sources. Trump and other top Republicans want to identify the White House officials who spoke to the whistleblower about Trump's alleged misconduct, Fox reports. They have questioned why the sources didn't file their own whistleblower complaints. "If they're leaking something that's supposed to be classified, then ... that probably is criminal in nature," says Rep. Andy Biggs, a member of the House Judiciary Committee.
  • Praise for the whistleblower. Greg Miller at the Washington Post praises the whistleblower for his "painstaking" work on the complaint, which was released by a House panel Thursday. Within less than three weeks of the July 25 call, the whistleblower managed to exceed the Mueller investigation by "producing a file so concerning and factually sound that it has almost single-handedly set in motion the gears of impeachment," Miller writes.
  • A plea from the whistleblower's lawyers. Attorneys for the whistleblower have declined to confirm that he is a CIA officer and have asked news organizations to avoid publishing information about him. "Any decision to report any perceived identifying information of the whistle-blower is deeply concerning and reckless, as it can place the individual in harm's way,” says lawyer Andrew Bakaj, per the Times. "The whistleblower has a right to anonymity."
(Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire has defended the whistleblower's actions.)

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