On CNN Thursday night, GOP lobbyist and American Conservative Union director Matt Schlapp tried to explain away the whistleblower complaint against Trump's promises to Ukrainian officials as a "political fight" against Trump. CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin was having none of it.
"Matt, do you agree that under the law or believe that under the law, the [Director of National Intelligence] is required to forward any complaint?" asked anchor Anderson Cooper.
"No, no," said Schlapp. "These whistleblower statutes are intended to empower employees of these IC agencies and other agencies in government. To be able to find a way to have legal protection when they see wrongdoing within the agency. It would be a bastardization of Article II of the Constitution if whistleblower statutes were somehow expanded so that people and agencies could make political fights against the president of the United States, especially in his role as commander-in-chief, Anderson. He has very wide authority, really, unchecked authority to talk to world leaders about anything he deems appropriate as he is representing the United States of America."
"So it will be a big mistake to assume that somehow whistleblower statutes are needed in agencies as a way to somehow limit the president's power as our commander-in-chief," said Schlapp, adding, "if this were able to go forward, any staffer in an agency could constantly hobble a Democratic elected president."
"That's not true," said Toobin.
"It is true," shot back Schlapp.
"The issue is not a political dispute," said Toobin.
"How do you know, Jeffrey?" demanded Schlapp. "We don't know."
"Because the inspector general said it's not," said Toobin.
"You have to be able to see the underlying charge before you can on national television—" said Schlapp.
"Well, he said that," said Toobin. "The inspector general has seen the specifics, and the inspector general said it's not a political disagreement. He said it's a — covered by the statute. It is something about misconduct."
"He has said nothing," said Schlapp.
"Of course he has," said Toobin.
"He gave a confidential briefing to members of Congress," said Schlapp. "He has not said anything publicly to characterize what's in this—"
"Yes, he has," said Toobin. "It's in the letter."