Sean Davis, Intel Community Secretly Gutted Requirement of First-Hand Whistleblower Knowledge

Sean Davis

Federal records show that the intelligence community secretly revised the formal whistleblower complaint form in August 2019 to eliminate the requirement of direct, first-hand knowledge of wrongdoing.

Between May 2018 and August 2019, the intelligence community secretly eliminated a requirement that whistleblowers provide direct, first-hand knowledge of alleged wrongdoings. This raises questions about the intelligence community’s behavior regarding the August submission of a whistleblower complaint against President Donald Trump. The new complaint document no longer requires potential whistleblowers who wish to have their concerns expedited to Congress to have direct, first-hand knowledge of the alleged wrongdoing that they are reporting.

The brand new version of the whistleblower complaint form, which was not made public until after the transcript of Trump’s July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky and the complaint addressed to Congress were made public, eliminates the first-hand knowledge requirement and allows employees to file whistleblower complaints even if they have zero direct knowledge of underlying evidence and only “heard about [wrongdoing] from others.”

The internal properties of the newly revised “Disclosure of Urgent Concern” form, which the intelligence community inspector general (ICIG) requires to be submitted under the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act (ICWPA), show that the document was uploaded on September 24, 2019, at 4:25 p.m., just days before the anti-Trump complaint was declassified and released to the public. The markings on the document state that it was revised in August 2019, but no specific date of revision is disclosed.

The complaint alleges that President Donald Trump broke the law during a phone call with the Ukrainian president. In his complaint, which was dated August 12, 2019, the complainant acknowledged he was “not a direct witness” to the wrongdoing he claims Trump committed.

A previous version of the whistleblower complaint document, which the ICIG and DNI until recently provided to potential whistleblowers, declared that any complaint must contain only first-hand knowledge of alleged wrongdoing and that complaints that provide only hearsay, rumor, or gossip would be rejected.

“The [Intelligence Community Inspector General] cannot transmit information via the ICPWA based on an employee’s second-hand knowledge of wrongdoing,” the previous form stated under the bolded heading “FIRST-HAND INFORMATION REQUIRED.” “This includes information received from another person, such as when an employee informs you that he/she witnessed some type of wrongdoing.”

“If you think that wrongdoing took place, but can provide nothing more than second-hand or unsubstantiated assertions, [the Intelligence Community Inspector General] will not be able to process the complaint or information for submission as an ICWPA,” the form concluded.

Markings on the previous version of the Disclosure of Urgent Concern form show that it was formally approved on May 24, 2018. Here is that original Disclosure of Urgent Concern form prior to the August 2019 revision:

Here is the revised Disclosure of Urgent Concern form following the August 2019 revision:

The Ukraine call complaint against Trump is riddled not with evidence directly witnessed by the complainant, but with repeated references to what anonymous officials allegedly told the complainant: “I have received information from multiple U.S. Government officials,” “officials have informed me,” “officials with direct knowledge of the call informed me,” “the White House officials who told me this information,” “I was told by White House officials,” “the officials I spoke with,” “I was told that a State Department official,” “I learned from multiple U.S. officials,” “One White House official described this act,” “Based on multiple readouts of these meetings recounted to me,” “I also learned from multiple U.S. officials,” “The U.S. officials characterized this meeting,” “multiple U.S. officials told me,” “I learned from U.S. officials,” “I also learned from a U.S. official,” “several U.S. officials told me,” “I heard from multiple U.S. officials,” and “multiple U.S. officials told me.”

The repeated references to information the so-called whistleblower never witnessed clearly run afoul of the original ICIG requirements for “urgent concern” submissions. The change to the “urgent concern” submission form was first highlighted on Twitter by researcher Stephen McIntyre.

The complainant also cites publicly available news articles as proof of many of the allegations.

“I was not a direct witness to most of the events” characterized in the document, the complainant confessed on the first page of his August 12 letter, which was addressed to Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the respective chairmen of the House and Senate intelligence committees. Hearsay is generally inadmissible as evidence in U.S. federal and state courts since it violates the constitutional requirement that the accused be given the opportunity to question his accusers.

The anti-Trump complaint also made several false claims that have been directly refuted and debunked. While the complaint alleged that Trump demanded that Ukraine physically return multiple servers potentially related to ongoing investigations of foreign interference in the 2016 elections, the transcript of the call between Trump and Zelensky shows that such a request was never made.

The complainant also falsely alleged that Trump told Zelensky that he should keep the current prosecutor general at the time, Yuriy Lutsenko, in his current position in the country. The transcript showed that exchange also did not happen.

Additionally, the complaint falsely alleged that T. Ulrich Brechbuhl, a U.S. State Department official, was a party to the phone call between Trump and Zelensky.

“I was told that a State Department official, Mr. T. Ulrich Brechbuhl, also listened in on the call,” the complaint alleged. Shortly after the complaint was released, CBS News reported that Brechbuhl was not on the phone call.

In a legal opinion that was released to the public along with the phone call transcript, the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) determined that the complainant’s submission was statutorily deficient and therefore was not required to be submitted to Congress. The White House nonetheless declassified and released the document to Congress late Wednesday evening.

“The complaint does not arise in connection with the operation of any U.S. government intelligence activity, and the alleged misconduct does not involve any member of the intelligence community,” the September 3 OLC opinion noted. “Rather, the complaint arises out of a confidential diplomatic communication between the President and a foreign leader that the intelligence-community complainant received secondhand.”

“The question is whether such a complaint falls within the statutory definition of “urgent concern” that the law requires the DNI to forward to the intelligence committees,” the OLC opinion continued. “We conclude that it does not.”

It is not known precisely when the August 2019 revision to the whistleblower complaint form was approved, nor is it known which, if any, version of the Disclosure of Urgent Concern form the complainant completed prior to addressing his complaint to Congress.

Reached by phone on Friday afternoon, a Director of National Intelligence official refused to comment on any questions about the secret revision to the whistleblower form, including when it was revised to eliminate the requirement of first-hand knowledge and for what reason.

Sean Davis
Sean Davis is the co-founder of The Federalist.
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6 thoughts on “Sean Davis, Intel Community Secretly Gutted Requirement of First-Hand Whistleblower Knowledge”

  1. Who can argue with this?

    Daniel McAdams: “The US Has Ceased Being A Republic And Has Become A National Security State”

    A quote from the article that follows:

    The Trump Presidency thus far has been an enormous disappointment. The president had the opportunity to name a top-notch foreign policy and national security team that would reflect and carry out his stated policies as a candidate – getting along with Russia, NATO skepticism, opposition to endless war, etc – but once in power he has again and again drawn from that same neoconservative cesspool that no matter who is elected always find its way to positions of power and influence. He did not chart a wise course in building a solid administration of professionals who agree with him – and there are plenty to choose from – and instead he actually hired an entire team of people who not only disagree with his stated positions, but they actually publicly ridicule them and work against them. It is unprecedented in my memory to see those who serve the president publicly undermining his stated positions, yet Bolton and Pompeo never hesitated or hesitate to do just that. This is an enormous missed opportunity for President Trump and for the United States.

  2. You mention ”reversing facts”. Biden is notorious for this. If something is reported to be 80% good for the people, if it suits his agenda he’ll say that its 80% bad. I’ve see him pull this fraud many times.

    He even reported on video that he’d SEEN the photos of the dead children at Sandy Hood school. This is what kind of slithering snake he is. He’s a reputed liar. After he made that crack, he looked around the room and said “are there any reporters in here?….otherwise I better be quiet”.

  3. The concept that some WH employee [said to be a CIA plant] would be the go-to recipient of a gusher of inside information on a Presidential phone-call is silly and unbelievable on its face.

    Add the fact, that the CIA would now accept some random gossip as a legit Whistle-blower complaint if just too convenient for words. I guess that words overheard in the toilet stalls are good enough to write a protected whistle-blower complaint.

    The fact that Pelosi and Schiff would blithely accept this ridiculous bogus letter as gospel is of course typical of their disregard for Constitutional reality.

    Mr. Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow has clearly stated that the Complaint, because of its legal style of writing, was obviously written by a team of lawyers and not the so-called CIA plant.

    1. The woman host of “Face the Nation” looked like an idiot today and was put in her place repeatedly. Chuck Todd is revealing himself as a tool of the Deep State. This complaint is OBVIOUSLY a set up and composed with great care, where I suspect Adam Schiff was among its authors. It provides the “road map” HE WANTED to pursued completely unfounded allegations against Trump. Notice, too, that there is a treaty between the US and Ukraine signed by Bill Clinton regarding the investigation of crimes, where the parties must notify one another of what they want to have investigated. Joe Biden will not answer questions about Hunter, where we have him on video BOASTING about threatening to withhold $1 billion in aide if the prosecutor looking into his son’s activities is not fired–and ECSTATIC THAT HE WAS! So they are accusing Trump of the very offense that was committed by Biden! The public will not be taken in by Russia Hoax 2.0.

      1. I mistakingly attributed this concept to Sal Alinsky, but it was Joseph Goebbels talking about how Germany was defenseless against being accused of what the enemy was doing during World War One. Look how good that worked for Killary with the Russian accusation. The first one in with the false accusation usually wins when the recrimination returns fire.

        Joseph Goebbels wrote this is 1934…. The cleverest trick used in propaganda against Germany during the war was to accuse Germany of what our enemies themselves were doing. Even today, large parts of world opinion are convinced that the typical characteristics of German propaganda are lying, crudeness, reversing the facts, and the like. One needs only to remember the stories that were spread throughout the world at the beginning of the war about German soldiers chopping off children’s hands and crucifying women to realize that Germany then was a defenseless victim of this campaign of calumny. It neither had nor used any means of defense.

        Even during the time when we were in the opposition, we succeeded in rescuing the concept of propaganda from disfavor or contempt. Since then, we have transformed it into a truly creative art. It was our sharpest weapon in conquering the state. It remains our sharpest weapon in defending and building the state. Although this is perhaps still not clear to the rest of the world, it was obvious to us that we had to use the weapon with which we had conquered the state to defend the state. Otherwise we faced the danger that we could lose the people even though we had power, and that, without the people, we would lose power.

        I leave you with Sal Alinsky 1966 interview “I’d organize Hell”

      2. Alinsky’s goal was to make the poor ”negro” angry about being poor….so they would vote for lefties, who would promise a paradise but do nothing for them. He’s a community agitator just like Obama and Hillary.

        Notice that Saul lives in Carmel, CA….an enclave of the rich. No poor people or even middle-class lived there then.

        Thanks Dave for the link.

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