The invaluable Sean Davis, writing for the Federalist, looks at how the whistle began blowing:
On Monday, the intelligence community inspector general (ICIG) admitted that it did alter its forms and policies governing whistleblower complaints, and that it did so in response to the anti-Trump complaint filed on Aug. 12, 2019. The Federalist first reported the sudden changes last Friday. While many in the media falsely claimed the ICIG’s stunning admission debunked The Federalist’s report, the admission from the ICIG completely affirmed the reporting on the secretive change to whistleblower rules following the filing of an anti-Trump complaint in August.
The ICIG also disclosed for the first time that the anti-Trump complainant filed his complaint using the previously authorized form, the guidance for which explicitly stated the ICIG’s previous requirement for firsthand evidence for credible complaints. The Federalist reported last week that it was not known which form, if any, the complainant used, as the complaint that was declassified and released to the public last week was written as a letter to the two chairmen of the congressional intelligence committees.
So why does the form matter? Back to Davis:
The ICIG’s claim that it would have been incorrect to perceive a requirement for firsthand information is bizarre considering the previous version of the form clearly stated in unambiguous language that firsthand evidence was required in order for “urgent concern” whistleblower complaints to be deemed credible. It said, in bold, underlined, all-caps text, “FIRST-HAND INFORMATION REQUIRED”:
Because the complaint did not allege wrongdoing against a member of the intelligence community (the president of the United States is an elected constitutional officer, not an employee of a statutory agency), did not allege wrongdoing with regard to an intelligence activity (a phone call between two elected world leaders is basic diplomacy, not the execution of a statutorily required intelligence activity), and relied primarily on hearsay rather than firsthand evidence, both the director of national intelligence (DNI) and the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel determined that the anti-Trump complaint was not an “urgent concern” under the law and was therefore not required to be transmitted to the relevant congressional committees. In spite of those determinations, the ICIG on its own and after revising its internal guidance and policies regarding firsthand evidence decided the complaint did qualify as an “urgent concern” and forwarded the anti-Trump complaint to Congress.
The rules, in other words, are whatever someone with an animus against a sitting president, says they are. For his part, Donald Trump was tweetin' last night and called this thing what it is:
I was NeverTrump once. Some of my friends who remain bloggers are still highly critical of Trump for his boorishness. I'm sorry, but aesthetics don't matter at this point. Trump's political enemies cannot succeed. If they do, we don't have a country. It's possible, even probable, they already have. You can't have unelected, unaccountable people changing forms and changing lives. The bureaucracy serves at our pleasure, but they have every reason to believe they rule. And why wouldn't they?