Here's the Problem With the Now Released "Whistle-Blower" Complaint

President Donald Trump speaks during a Made in America showcase event on the South Lawn of the White House, Monday, July 15, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

As my colleague Joe Cunningham wrote this morning, the much-sought whistle-blower complaint against President Trump has been released.

This followed a feverous pursuit of impeachment based on a phone call with the Ukrainian president in which no illicitness is even shown. Sure, you have people straining to proclaim what President Zelensky might have interpreted, but the facts are that there was no quid pro quo and that Trump was not even the one to bring up Giuliani.


That left us with the whistle-blower complaint, with the supposition that it would contain the real bad stuff. So did it?

No, not really. As Joe writes, it lays out a pathway for impeachment, but anyone can make claims based on second and third-hand information. It was clearly drafted by lawyers, probably with the help of House Democrats, with its entire intent being to drive the media narrative.

Why do I say that? Because even its most serious charge isn’t illegal and has a perfectly reasonable explanation.

What we are seeing is an allegation of a cover-up of a call that Trump released with a smile the moment it was requested. He either sucks at cover-ups or the more likely reason these calls went to another server is to stop the leak-fest that was happening throughout 2017 and early 2018. Given we saw far less leaks of Trump’s private calls after that move, it seems to confirm that it was the intel community doing the leaking.

But perhaps Trump moved the calls to an improper place, i.e. the Hillary Clinton mail server fiasco? Nope. They went to a top secret, codeword server that is run and sanctioned by the federal government. In other words, there was nothing illegal or even necessarily improper about it. In fact, if you dig down, the whistle-blower’s accusation seems to boil down to the idea that the calls were classified improperly. But that also makes no sense. A call between the President and a foreign leader would always end up classified.


Further, it’s fairly clear that this whistle-blower isn’t actually a whistle-blower and that the IC has no jurisdiction over this matter.


In the end, as per usual, we are left arguing if “Trump is bad” instead of anything actually impeachable. As I noted, there are perfectly reasonable explanations for why the White House would want to move the calls to more secure storage. The fact that other calls are also stored there says this was about leaks, not about covering up a single phone call, which we were given anyway.

And I can’t stress that enough. We already have the phone call and Trump did not attempt to withhold it when it became clear this would be an issue. How can there be a cover up when he handed it over at the first sign of scandal? That again points to the storage decisions being related to leaks, not covering something nefarious up.

As Fleitz notes above, this call is the property of the White House. The IC has no right to demand unlimited access to it, especially given how political they’ve become. I’ve lost track of the number of leaks that have almost certainly originated from their ranks. If the White House wants to store foreign calls in a more secure location, that’s their prerogative. That’s not an impeachable offense and to suggest such is laughable.

Lastly, let’s remember that people in the intel community broke the law to share this information with the whistle-blower. He was not legally privy to any of these conversations or the supposed facts which form his allegation. Doesn’t the fact that the intel community was once again illegally leaking material to harm Trump only bolster his case for using more secure storage for his calls?


This has done irreparable harm between the White House and the IC. There’s no reason he should trust them ever again, and that’s a shame because we need cooperation there. Same for the President’s calls with foreign leaders. Now, speaking freely will be a thing of the past, as fears of leaks and extorted releases of transcripts will always be present.

What this all will lead to is lots of gnashing of teeth, yet another Congressional investigation, and Trump still being President. This is simply not going to take him out, nor should it. Perhaps there’s some coming smoking gun, but this isn’t it.


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