Trump’s effort to target whistleblower becomes far less subtle

Updated

The Rachel Maddow Show, 9/20/19, 9:22 PM ET

Whistleblower process breaks down against covering for Trump

Matt Miller, former Justice Department spokesman, talks with Joy Reid about the extremely perilous position the intelligence community whistleblower is in, and the limited options Democrats face in how to confront Donald Trump’s unbridled corruption.
The latest scandal to rock Donald Trump’s presidency is unfolding quickly, but it began with someone whose identity we do not yet know. A whistleblower brought a complaint to the intelligence community’s inspector general, which effectively served as the first in a series of dominoes, with new pieces continuing to fall.

There are laws in place intended to protect whistleblowers from reprisals, and these protections should make obvious sense: we want a system in which honorable patriots, who uncover wrongdoing, are able to follow a legitimate process to hold guilty parties responsible for their actions. If whistleblowers are made to feel afraid, it creates conditions that allow corruption to thrive.

It was against this backdrop that the president started going after the whistleblower directly on Friday, questioning his or her motives, labeling him or her as “highly partisan,” and spreading rumors about what he’s “heard” in reference to this person, even while Trump insisted he has no idea who the whistleblower is.

Yesterday, during a brief Q&A with reporters, the Republican went just a little further.

Q: Is the White House blocking the Director of National Intelligence from sending the whistleblower complaint to Congress?

TRUMP: No, [acting Director of National intelligence Joseph Maguire] is a great gentleman – Joe. He’s doing a fantastic job. And I know one thing: He’s only going to do what’s right. But he is doing a fantastic job. And he’s only going to do what’s right. But just so you understand, the conversation I had with the President of Ukraine was absolutely perfect. And people better find out who these people are that are trying to subvert our country, because here we go again. These are bad people.

During the same Q&A, the president said that it “sounds” to him like the person in question is “not a whistleblower,” adding, “[Y]ou can’t have people doing this. And you can’t have people doing false alarms like this.”

There is a process in the United States that tells us how whistleblowers are supposed to be treated. Our sitting president, at the center of an intensifying storm, is ignoring this process, apparently trying to protect himself.

Something Rachel said on the show on Thursday night seems worth repeating today:

“Somewhere out there right now in America is a whistleblower from the intelligence community – who has gone through channels and done things by the book – and sought whistleblower protection under law to alert Congress in good faith about a serious and urgent matter that reportedly involves the president, his communications with foreign leaders, some sort of ‘promise’ that he has made to foreign leaders and potentially some shenanigans involving the nation of Ukraine.

“Bit by bit, the substance of the complaint seems to be coming to the surface, while hour-by-hour, the Trump administration appears to be fixing its crosshairs on the whistleblower.”

After the president’s comments yesterday, it’s a bit worse now.