Donald Trump on Thursday suggested he’d like to murder the person (or persons) who leaked information to the whistle-blower behind the declassified complaint at the heart of the impeachment inquiry announced this week by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
That’s according to a person briefed on remarks the president made to staff from the US Mission to the United Nations.
“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 a source who spoke to the New York Times.
“You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart with spies and treason, right?”, Trump went on to ask the room, according to notes documenting the president’s comments to aides and advisors. “We used to handle it a little differently than we do now”.
Although not surprising, Trump’s thinly-veiled threat to literally execute US officials for speaking out about his efforts to compel a foreign government to investigate political rivals show how little the president has learned this week. The wild threat – which we now know he did in fact make, because someone taped him saying it – also shows how deeply ingrained is Trump’s predisposition towards acting in a manner that’s consistent with mob movies the president has clearly seen a few too many times.
In the complaint, the whistle-blower cites “more than a half-dozen” US officials as sources in the course of documenting a monthslong effort to compel the Ukraine government to take actions that would ostensibly serve the president’s personal political agenda at the possible expense of US national security and democratic integrity.
Worse for Trump, the whistle-blower is said to be a CIA officer “who was detailed to work at the White House at one point”. That’s according to a trio of people who spoke to the Times for a separate article on Thursday afternoon.
“The man has since returned to the CIA”, those sources said.
The man’s attorneys would not confirm the reporting, but chided the Times for publishing the article.
“Any decision to report any perceived identifying information of the whistle-blower is deeply concerning and reckless, as it can place the individual in harm’s way”, the person’s lead counsel said.
The Times defended its decision to publish the details.
“The role of the whistle-blower, including his credibility and his place in the government, is essential to understanding one of the most important issues facing the country – whether the president of the United States abused power and whether the White House covered it up”, said Dean Baquet, the Times’s executive editor.
Suffice to say Trump’s alleged comments around what happened to “spies” in the “good” old days underscore the notion that this person is, in fact, in a rather perilous position.
Fortunately, one imagines a CIA officer knows a thing or two about how to avoid being “burned” by a vengeful autocrat.