Trump de­mands ex­po­sure of Ukraine whistle­blower

Democrat ties in­ten­sify ‘deep state’ fight

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY TOM HOW­ELL JR.

Pres­i­dent Trump said Wed­nes­day that the of­fi­cial who blew the whis­tle on his in­ter­ac­tions with Ukraine is po­lit­i­cally con­flicted and should be “ex­posed and ques­tioned prop­erly,” tak­ing his three-year fight against the so-called deep state to a new level.

He ratch­eted up his calls to un­mask the anony­mous whistle­blower af­ter it was re­vealed that he had a “pro­fes­sional re­la­tion­ship” with one of Mr. Trump’s po­ten­tial 2020 Demo­cratic ri­vals.

“The whistle­blower was in ca­hoots with Schiff,” said Mr. Trump, re­fer­ring Rep. Adam B. Schiff, Cal­i­for­nia Democrat and chair­man of the House Per­ma­nent Se­lect Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence. “Then it turns

out that whistle­blower is a Democrat, a strong Democrat, and is work­ing with one of my op­po­nents, as a Democrat, that I might end up run­ning against. The whole thing is a scam, it’s a fix.”

Mr. Trump also said the whistle­blower’s lean­ings pose a po­ten­tial con­flict of in­ter­est. “He or she should be ex­posed and ques­tioned prop­erly,” he tweeted.

One of the whistle­blower’s at­tor­neys, Mark S. Zaid, re­sponded Wed­nes­day evening by say­ing his client has come into con­tact with pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates from both par­ties in their roles as elected of­fi­cials — not can­di­dates — and “never worked for or ad­vised a po­lit­i­cal can­di­date, cam­paign or party.”

Mr. Trump slammed the uniden­ti­fied of­fi­cial three days af­ter 90 for­mer na­tional se­cu­rity of­fi­cials signed an open let­ter laud­ing the whistle­blower for call­ing out Mr. Trump’s re­quest for Ukrainian Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Ze­len­sky to in­ves­ti­gate a Demo­cratic ri­val, for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joseph R. Bi­den, and his son Hunter, who had busi­ness ties in Ukraine.

Mr. Bi­den called Wed­nes­day for the pres­i­dent to be im­peached. He said Mr. Trump “is shoot­ing holes in the Con­sti­tu­tion, and we can­not let him get away with it.”

The pres­i­dent says he has the right to con­front his ac­cuser while in­sin­u­at­ing that aides who fed in­for­ma­tion to the whistle­blower are dou­ble agents.

“We could have a spy,” Mr. Trump said. “I don’t want to have spies when I’m ne­go­ti­at­ing with China and Syria and all of the coun­tries.”

Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence said Mr. Trump’s re­quest for Ukraine to in­ves­ti­gate Mr. Bi­den was in “no way con­nected” to the pres­i­dent with­hold­ing mil­i­tary aid to the coun­try, as far as he knew.

Pressed by re­porters in Iowa whether he was “aware” that the mil­i­tary aid was tied to a probe of Mr. Bi­den, Mr. Pence re­sponded, “That’s your ques­tion. Let me be very clear, the is­sue of aid and our ef­forts with re­gard to Ukraine, were from my ex­pe­ri­ence no way con­nected to the very le­git­i­mate con­cern the Amer­i­can peo­ple have about cor­rup­tion that took place, about things that hap­pened in the 2016 elec­tion.”

The episode is shin­ing a bright light on a de­bate that has raged since Mr. Trump swept into the White House: Are pock­ets of the na­tion’s na­tional se­cu­rity and in­tel­li­gence ap­pa­ra­tus in­tent on un­der­min­ing an un­con­ven­tional ad­min­is­tra­tion, or is Mr. Trump un­fairly dis­cred­it­ing of­fi­cials who call it like they see it — and are alarmed by what they see?

“Don­ald Trump has shown him­self to be in­com­pe­tent at times on for­eign pol­icy, and the peo­ple who see that most clearly work in the for­eign pol­icy and in­tel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ties. They know it and don’t like it, and when they speak out about it, he calls them the ‘deep state,’” one for­mer high-level in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cial said. “I don’t think there is any deep state. It’s a con­ve­nient way for the pres­i­dent’s sup­port­ers to tor­pedo any le­git­i­mate crit­i­cism of him.”

Mr. Trump and his al­lies in­sist the deep state is real and kick­ing into over­drive as the Ukraine scan­dal threat­ens to en­velop the White House.

“This is look­ing more & more like a deep state scheme,” House Mi­nor­ity Whip Steve Scalise, Louisiana Re­pub­li­can, tweeted this month. He ac­cused Mr. Schiff of plot­ting with the whistle­blower.

Mr. Trump says it’s not just gov­ern­ment. He re­cently sug­gested Big Pharma might be gun­ning for him, too.

“We’re low­er­ing the cost of pre­scrip­tion drugs, tak­ing on the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies. And you think that’s easy? It’s not easy,” Mr. Trump told se­niors in The Vil­lages, Florida, last week. “They come at you from all dif­fer­ent sides. I wouldn’t be sur­prised if the hoax didn’t come a lit­tle bit from some of the peo­ple that we’re tak­ing on.”

Mr. Trump’s sus­pi­cions are rooted in ques­tions about his 2016 elec­tion vic­tory. Mr. Trump is dis­gusted by the idea that his up­set win was abet­ted by Rus­sia. He said his unique brand of cam­paign­ing and pop­ulist mes­sage led to one of the most stun­ning po­lit­i­cal vic­to­ries of all time.

“For the last three years, Democrat law­mak­ers, their deep state cronies, the fake news me­dia, they’ve been col­lud­ing in their ef­fort to over­turn the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion — 63 mil­lion peo­ple voted — and to nul­lify the votes of the Amer­i­can peo­ple,” Mr. Trump told young black con­ser­va­tives at the White House this month.

Mr. Trump ac­cused in­tel­li­gence agen­cies in Jan­uary 2017 of adopt­ing tac­tics from Nazi Ger­many and, about a week later, boasted about him­self in front of a wall hon­or­ing fallen Cen­tral In­tel­li­gence Agency of­fi­cers at Lan­g­ley, Vir­ginia.

At a low point dur­ing a mid-2018 press con­fer­ence in Fin­land, Mr. Trump seemed to ac­cept Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s de­nial about 2016 elec­tion med­dling over the U.S. in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity’s con­clu­sions.

Al­though those mo­ments are mem­o­rable, some say the dis­con­nect be­tween Mr. Trump and the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity is philo­soph­i­cal.

“What they’re dis­agree­ing on is the process,” Re­pub­li­can strate­gist Ford O’Con­nell said. “He is chang­ing the way that we look at things, and to them that’s kind of a prob­lem be­cause they like the idea of, ‘We’re go­ing to see this in a cer­tain way.’”

The whistle­blower episode il­lus­trates the di­vide.

The com­plaint cried foul over en­treaties that Mr. Trump’s per­sonal at­tor­ney, Ru­dolph W. Gi­u­liani, made to Ukrainian of­fi­cials and flagged Mr. Trump’s call with Mr. Ze­len­sky. The doc­u­ment said the pres­i­dent used the phone call to “ad­vance his per­sonal in­ter­ests” and that White House of­fi­cials were “deeply dis­turbed” by what tran­spired.

Michael Atkin­son, the in­spec­tor gen­eral for the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity, deemed the com­plaint ur­gent and cred­i­ble.

Mr. Trump in­sists his tac­tics on the call were “per­fect” and that the Ukrainian probe amounts to hoax 2.0 af­ter spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s investigat­ion found no crim­i­nal con­spir­acy be­tween his cam­paign and Rus­sia.

Mr. Trump riffed on his vic­tim­iza­tion re­peat­edly as he signed an un­re­lated pair of ex­ec­u­tive or­ders Wed­nes­day to al­le­vi­ate reg­u­la­tory bur­dens on small busi­nesses and fam­i­lies.

“No Amer­i­can should ever face such per­se­cu­tion from their own gov­ern­ment,” he said at the White House. “Ex­cept, per­haps, your pres­i­dent.”

The Jus­tice De­part­ment has tasked U.S. At­tor­ney John Durham with ex­plor­ing the ori­gins of the Rus­sia probe, a mis­sion that White House al­lies re­fer to as “in­ves­ti­gat­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tors.”

The pres­i­dent’s lat­est fix­a­tion, how­ever, is on Mr. Atkin­son and the whistle­blower.

“The Whistle­blower has ties to one of my DEMOCRAT OP­PO­NENTS. Why does the ICIG al­low this scam to con­tinue?” Mr. Trump tweeted.

Sen. Tom Cot­ton, Arkansas Re­pub­li­can, ac­cused Mr. Atkin­son on Wed­nes­day of play­ing it coy in Sept. 26 tes­ti­mony to the Se­nate Se­lect Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence.

“You mor­al­ized about how you were duty bound not to share even a hint of this po­lit­i­cal bias with us,” he said. “But now I see me­dia re­ports that you re­vealed to the House in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee not only that the com­plainant is a reg­is­tered Democrat, but also that he has a pro­fes­sional re­la­tion­ship with a Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.”

For­mer U.S. na­tional se­cu­rity of­fi­cials said in their let­ter Sun­day that Mr. Trump and his al­lies must leave the whistle­blower alone.

“While the identity of the whistle­blower is not pub­licly known, we do know that he or she is an em­ployee of the U.S. gov­ern­ment,” they wrote. “As such, he or she has by law the right — and in­deed the re­spon­si­bil­ity — to make known, through ap­pro­pri­ate chan­nels, in­di­ca­tions of se­ri­ous wrong­do­ing.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

LASHING OUT: Pres­i­dent Trump riffed on vic­tim­iza­tion as he signed ex­ec­u­tive or­ders Wed­nes­day at the White House. “No Amer­i­can should ever face such per­se­cu­tion from their own gov­ern­ment,” he said.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Joseph R. Bi­den called for Pres­i­dent Trump’s impeachmen­t. Mr. Trump asked the Ukrainian pres­i­dent to in­ves­ti­gate the for­mer vice pres­i­dent.

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