When You Poke The Bear

There were two articles posted at The Federalist yesterday (here and here) about the current circus in the House of Representatives. I suspect this is not going exactly the way the Democrats had intended.

The first article notes:

In tense testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) on Friday, the inspector general for federal spy agencies refused to disclose why his office backdated secret changes to key whistleblower forms and rules in the wake of an anti-Trump whistleblower complaint filed in August, sources told The Federalist.

As The Federalist reported and the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) confirmed, the spy watchdog secretly changed its whistleblower forms and internal rules in September to eliminate a requirement that whistleblowers provide first-hand evidence to support any allegations of wrongdoing. In a press release last week, the ICIG confessed that it changed its rules in response to an anti-Trump complaint filed on August 12. That complaint, which was declassified and released by President Donald Trump in September, was based entirely on second-hand information, much of which was shown to be false following the declassification and release of a telephone conversation between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The first article concludes:

Several top lawmakers in the Senate raised similar concerns about Atkinson’s behavior in a separate letter.

“Why did the IC IG initially require first-hand information in its May 2018 disclosure form?” the senators asked. “Why did the IC IG remove the requirement for first-hand information?”

Atkinson has not answered their questions, either, raising questions that his behavior following his receipt of the anti-Trump complaint might not be completely above board. Atkinson ignored legal guidance from both the director of national intelligence and the Department of Justice that the anti-Trump complaint was statutorily deficient and forwarded it to HPSCI even though it did not meet the legal definition of an “urgent concern” that is required to be given to Congress.

The embattled ICIG also admitted on Friday that the anti-Trump complainant lied on his whistleblower complaint form by concealing the complainant’s previous secret interactions with House Democratic staff prior to submitting the complaint. Atkinson never even bothered investigating potential coordination between the complainant, whom DOJ said showed evidence of partisan political bias, and House Democrats prior to the filing of the anti-Trump complaint.

The second article is more of a history of the entire Ukraine scandal. It mentions the fact that there are genuine concerns about Ukraine interference in the 2016 American presidential election.

The second article also suggests some motivation behind this current circus:

The Democrats’ case for impeachment is hopeless, but their motivation is simple. They whipped up their base into such a delusional frenzy during the “Russia investigation,” they have to keep the narrative going at all costs. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi faces a rebellion from her caucus if she doesn’t go along with it.

There may be a more serious motivation behind this:

But there’s a group of intelligence bureaucrats at work here, and their motivation is a bit different. An immediate motive may be to prevent an investigation into how the Russia probe started. This includes an investigation into how a document the Hillary Clinton campaign created — using anonymous Russians and a British national tied to Russia — was used by our intelligence agencies to investigate Trump.

The other possible motivation is more complex. During the “Russia investigation,” many in the intelligence agencies worked to subvert Trump’s foreign policy and remove Trump, through spying, a large series of leaks, and articles planted with friendly outlets. Trump’s campaign was even spied on before the election, via something called the “two-hop rule,” once a secret court granted a warrant to spy on Trump campaign officials such as Carter Page.

Because of this, the White House moved to cut off the broader “intelligence community” — inexorably tied to America’s foreign policy establishment that Trump ran against — from information the White House knew many in the intelligence agencies would use to selectively leak.

That could mean some of what’s going on today, at least from the CIA angle, is intelligence bureaucrats “striking back” because they lost their access to diplomatic communications, a coveted source of the intelligence community’s power. But even the Obama administration liked to hide diplomatic calls from the broader intelligence community, which should tell us something about that bureaucracy.

The second article includes the following statement:

In other words, the real big takeaway here is that we have a problem with our Washington bureaucracy, including our intelligence agencies, which have routinely crossed the line into policymaking. How much of the impeachment mess is due to CIA bureaucrats being incensed that Trump, who is elected, would dare to question military aid to Ukraine, and would dare to curtail their eavesdropping on diplomacy?

What we see here is an illustration of the reason why we need to drain the swamp.

One Question That Needs Answering

The Federalist posted an article yesterday about a question surrounding the latest attempt to impeach President Trump.

The article notes:

Republican lawmakers in both the Senate and House on Monday demanded answers from the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) about secret revisions to the office’s guidance on “urgent concern” whistleblower complaints. The Federalist first reported last week that between May 2018 and August 2019, the ICIG secretly eliminated its requirement that potential whistleblowers provide only first-hand evidence of alleged wrongdoing.

In their letter to Michael Atkinson, the ICIG, Reps. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) noted that the anti-Trump complainant offered no direct, first-hand evidence of alleged wrongdoing against President Donald Trump. Instead, the complaint is littered with gossip, hearsay, and rumor. The lawmakers specifically asked the ICIG to explain when the whistleblower guidance was revised, by whom, and for what reason.

“Based on the language on [the May 24, 2018] form, it appears that the requirement for first-hand information has been an ICIG policy regardless of how a whistleblower makes an urgent concern report,” they wrote. “Curiously the urgent disclosure form that now appears on the Office of the Director of National Intelligence website has recently changed and no longer contains this explicit first-hand information requirement.”

“[T]he timing of the removal of the first-hand information requirement raises questions about potential connections to this whistleblower’s complaint,” the lawmakers continued. “This timing, along with numerous apparent leaks of classified information about the contents of this complaint, also raise questions about potential criminality in the handling of these matters.”

The letter informs the ICIG that he must provide answers to their questions about the timing and rationale of the secret changes to the whistleblower guidance by noon on Thursday, October 3. The lawmakers told the ICIG to treat the letter as a formal demand to preserve all evidence related to the changes to the internal ICIG whistleblower rules.

The timing of this change, along with the willingness to ignore Vice-president Biden’s obvious successful attempt to leverage aid to Ukraine to prevent an investigation into some questionable business dealings of his son, is questionable at best. It does appear that there are un-elected people inside our government working with elected officials and a compliant media to undo the results of an election. Those people, along with their allies, need to face consequences for their actions–they are undermining our republic.

There is also the obvious question, “Why is the Intelligence Community Inspector General, who is supposed to be investigating the intelligence community, investigating the President?” That investigation is outside of his authority. The ‘whistleblower,’ who is actually simply a leaker, is not acting within the law as it is written.