After an intelligence community whistleblower exposed Donald Trump’s latest scandal, the president adopted a strategy featuring two main elements, one of which was less subtle than the other.
The overt part of Trump’s plan was to tear down the whistleblower’s credibility and discredit his or her complaint. The president seemed to convince himself that if he simply repeated the line that the complaint had been debunked, then at least some of the public might accept his bogus assertion as fact and the larger scandal would unravel.
This approach failed. The whistleblower’s complaint has stood up quite well to scrutiny. In fact, when a reporter asked the president late last week if he could point to something specific in the whistleblower’s complaint that was inaccurate, Trump hemmed and hawed for a while, but he couldn’t answer the question directly.
But just below the surface, there was another apparent element of the strategy: Trump no doubt realized that others within the administration were aware of his wrongdoing, and he likely hoped that an aggressive and public campaign against one whistleblower might discourage others from coming forward.
If this was part of the president’s plan, it failed, too.
A second whistleblower has come forward with information about President Donald Trump’s call with the president of Ukraine, according to attorneys representing that whistleblower and the intelligence official whose earlier complaint set off a series of events that led to an impeachment inquiry.
The second whistleblower “has first-hand knowledge” of the events, according to the first whistleblower’s attorney, Mark Zaid. The original whistleblower did not listen directly to Trump’s call, but talked to people who had.
NBC News’ report added that the second whistleblower “is not filing a separate formal complaint,” evidently because it’s unnecessary. Nevertheless, this person is “still entitled to legal protections for cooperating with the inspector general.”
For his part, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is vowing to expose the whistleblowers, forcing them to testify publicly, if the U.S. House impeaches Trump, as now appears likely.
The Treasury Department’s acting inspector general has opened a review into whether the Trump administration acted improperly during its ongoing fight with House Democrats over releasing President Trump’s tax returns.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has refused to comply with a request from House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.) for six years of the president’s business and financial returns. Democrats have said a 1924 law explicitly gives them the authority to request the documents, but Mnuchin has denied the request, and now the matter is pending in federal court. […]
As the fight has intensified, an IRS whistleblower in July filed a complaint with lawmakers and relayed concerns that at least one Treasury Department official attempted to interfere in that audit process.
Watch this space.