In a closed-to-press event in New York on Thursday morning, President Trump had harsh words for the person who gave the intelligence community whistleblower information about Trump’s July call with the Ukrainian president and the Trump implied that he wanted to punish that person.
According to a New York Times report, Trump said the person was akin to a “spy” and hearkened back to the “old days” when spies were dealt with more harshly.
“Basically, that person never saw the report, never saw the call, he never saw the call — heard something and decided that he or she, or whoever the hell they saw — they’re almost a spy,” Trump said, according to the Los Angeles Times, which was given a recording of the remarks.
“I want to know who’s the person who gave the whistle-blower the information because that’s close to a spy,” Trump said, according to notes from an attendee at the event shared with the Times. “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart with spies and treason, right? We used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”
According to a person briefed on the incident who spoke to the Times, the remark surprised most in the crowd and some laughed. Trump started barking about the whistleblower almost as soon as he started to speak. He also ran through his greatest hits list of complaints — he ranted about the “crooked” media who covered the whistleblower complaint and former Vice President Joe Biden, whom he attempted to pressure the Ukrainian president into investigating earlier this summer.
“And then you have Sleepy Joe Biden who’s dumb as a rock,” Trump reportedly said. “This guy was dumb on his best day and he’s not having his best day right now. He’s dumb as a rock. So you have Sleepy Joe and his kid, who’s got a lot of problems, he got thrown out of the Navy — look, I’m not going to, it’s a problem … so we won’t get into why. He got thrown out of the Navy and now this kid goes into Ukraine, walks away with millions of dollars, he becomes a consultant for $50,000 a month and he doesn’t know anything compared to anybody at this firm. He’s a stiff. He knows nothing. He’s walking away with $50,000.”
The pressure that Trump placed on the president of Ukraine to probe Biden is the subject of a whistleblower complaint that’s pushed Democrats to launch an impeachment inquiry and prompted an explosive rift between Congress and the White House.
In a tweet, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) called Trump’s remarks about the whistleblower source “reprehensible.”
The President’s suggestion that those involved in the whisteblower complaint should be dealt with as "we used to do" for "spies and treason" is a reprehensible invitation to violence against witnesses in our investigation.
All Americans must denounce such witness intimidation. https://t.co/cTQQXdbGsa
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) September 26, 2019