President Donald Trump is faced with a mounting scandal of epic proportions, regarding his apparent attempts to extort the government of Ukraine into digging up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden — and his administration's efforts to obstruct a whistleblower from warning Congress.
But Trump has a new conspiracy theory to paint himself as a victim of a rogue intelligence community. The president insists the "fake whistleblower report" violated federal rules — but someone changed those rules at the last minute to allow the complaint against him to go through.
WHO CHANGED THE LONG STANDING WHISTLEBLOWER RULES JUST BEFORE SUBMITTAL OF THE FAKE WHISTLEBLOWER REPORT? DRAIN THE SWAMP!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1569847423.0
But as the Washington Post Fact Checker's Glenn Kessler laid out, this is a lie.
"A speculative article on a conservative website provided fodder for talking points by presidential allies on television, which in turn caught the attention of the president," wrote Kessler. "Then the president stretched the claim even further into a Four-Pinocchio statement."
Trump's lie, Kessler explained, stems from claims made by climate denier Steve McIntyre and the right-wing publication The Federalist, which noted that the Disclosure of Urgent Concern Form used by the Director of National Intelligence office was updated in August — and that the previous revision of the form had a section titled "FIRST-HAND INFORMATION REQUIRED." Because the whistleblower got some information from other witnesses, these pundits concluded, it would have been an ineligible complaint under the old form.
But as Kessler noted, that's not how it works. First of all, Intelligence Community Directive 120, issued in 2014, already protects whistleblower complaints from secondhand sources regardless of what the original form said. And second, according to the inspector general, the Ukraine whistleblower actually used the old version of the form.
"The president seized on reports on the form to falsely claim the rules for whistleblowers were changed just before the whistleblower’s report was submitted in August," concluded Kessler. "That’s false and worthy of Four Pinocchios."