The media has spent the past few days speculating all the ways in which the Trump presidency could end after a whistleblower lodged a complaint regarding President Donald Trump’s communications with an unknown foreign leader.
It turns out the complaint is nothing more than a rumor reported by someone in the intelligence community. Buried in a lengthy CNN article about the complaint is the following paragraph:
The whistleblower didn’t have direct knowledge of the communications, an official briefed on the matter told CNN. Instead, the whistleblower’s concerns came in part from learning information that was not obtained during the course of their work, and those details have played a role in the administration’s determination that the complaint didn’t fit the reporting requirements under the intelligence whistleblower law, the official said.
Granted, this is yet another anonymous source giving more context on what another anonymous source told a different outlet, but it still calls the entire story into question.
The Washington Post first reported the complaint on Wednesday, using anonymous sources and vague descriptions. The outlet placed the story on its front page, with the headline, “Trump’s communications with foreign leader are part of whistleblower complaint that spurred standoff between spy chief and Congress, former officials say.”
The story was as vague as the headline, with “two former U.S. officials familiar with the matter” who were “speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly” claiming Trump made a “promise” to a world leader, which is apparently wrong.
The Post filled out its story with information about a “standoff” between Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire and Congress.
The Intelligence Community Inspector General, Michael Atkinson – who was appointed by Trump – determined the whistleblower complaint to be of “urgent concern,” according to the Post. But Maguire argued he was not required by law to turn the complaint over to congressional Democrats seeking to impeach Trump.
The reason Maguire didn’t turn the complaint over is because of what CNN reported – that the person who made the complaint had no direct knowledge of what was said and was merely reporting a rumor. Why the inspector general determined it “urgent and credible” remains to be seen.
Media outlets have continued to speculate about what terrible thing Trump allegedly promised and to whom. The Post published a timeline of Trump’s calls with foreign leaders over the past four months, emphasizing his contacts with Russia and North Korea. Further reporting suggested Trump made some kind of “promise” with the newly elected leader of Ukraine, possibly over the country’s investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter. The elder Biden reportedly bullied Ukraine into firing a prosecutor looking into a company that employed his son. Biden allegedly threatened to withhold U.S. loan guarantees if the prosecutor was not fired.
Some in the media suggested Trump withheld $250 million in military aid from Ukraine possibly in relation to whatever “promise” was made in that telephone call, which, again, the whistleblower didn’t overhear.