Trump’s case against whistleblower descends deeper into incoherence

The day after Donald Trump’s July 25 phone meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the intelligence community whistleblower who helped uncover the scandal wrote a memo. It quoted a White House official who listened in on the call describing the meeting as “crazy,” “frightening,” and “completely lacking in substance related to national security.”

The whistleblower added that the White House official was “visibly shaken by what had transpired,” and as the New York Times reported, the official added that there was “already a conversation underway with White House lawyers about how to handle the discussion because, in the official’s view, the president had clearly committed a criminal act by urging a foreign power to investigate a U.S. person for the purposes of advancing his own re-election bid in 2020.”

That July memo was shared with the intelligence community’s inspector general, and ultimately, with members of Congress.

The president, not surprisingly, is aware of the latest reporting on this, and he published a series of tweets this morning intended to push back against the revelations. Trump’s missives were absurd, but they helped capture something important: the Republican is stuck in the wrong conversation.

“The Whistleblower’s facts have been so incorrect about my “no pressure” conversation with the Ukrainian President, and now the conflict of interest and involvement with a Democrat Candidate, that he or she should be exposed and questioned properly. This is no Whistleblower. The Whistleblower’s lawyer is a big Democrat. The Whistleblower has ties to one of my DEMOCRAT OPPONENTS. Why does the ICIG allow this scam to continue?

“The so-called Whistleblower, before knowing I was going to release the exact Transcript, stated that my call with the Ukrainian President was ‘crazy, frightening, and completely lacking in substance related to national security.’ This is a very big Lie. Read the Transcript!”

The president is clearly confused about basic details. Trump believes the whistleblower’s account has been discredited, but that’s not true. He also falsely attributed quotes to the whistleblower that actually came from a White House official. He also falsely suggested the intelligence community’s inspector general can derail a congressional impeachment inquiry.

But what mattered most to me is the president’s idea that he can tear down the whistleblower by alleging that he or she has “ties” to a Democrat, is “involved” with a Democrat, and has a lawyer who’s a Democrat.

I have no idea who the whistleblower is and whether he or she has political “ties” to one party or another. I also have no idea why it would matter.

What we’re dealing with is someone who learned of presidential wrongdoing and, in effect, pulled the fire alarm. It set in motion a series of developments that made clear that the fire was (and is) real: Trump tried to privately coerce a foreign government into helping his re-election campaign; he publicly urged another country to help his re-election campaign; there are texts documenting the scope of the scheme; and the White House tried to cover it all up.

Trump has effectively been reduced to arguing, “The person who pulled the fire alarm may have had suspect motives.” What the president doesn’t seem to realize is that the person who pulled the fire alarm could’ve been an ax murderer and it wouldn’t make any difference.

Trump’s misdeeds have been exposed. The whistleblower’s politics, or lack thereof, are completely irrelevant.