The whistleblower whose complaint about President Trump’s communications with Ukraine launched House impeachment proceedings was still attending White House meetings recently and may have spoken to Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman prior to filing the complaint, according to the Washington Post.
On Saturday, the outlet published details about the steps a CIA analyst took to blow the whistle after the president urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a July 25 phone call to start an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, who is also leading the pack of 2020 Democrats. Notably, the Post was clear that the whistleblower is male.
“The analyst had served on the National Security Council during the Trump administration and had been in the presence of the president. After returning to the CIA, his job required him to continue to participate in National Security Council meetings,” the publication reported, indicating that the whistleblower was still attending meetings at the White House recently.
The Post claimed the whistleblower never told any of his White House contacts about his plans to file a complaint, which he worked on “after hours” in his cubicle at the CIA headquarters for two weeks before submitting it on Aug. 12.
Before filing the complaint, the anonymous person spoke with a White House official who also expressed concern over Trump’s conversation with Zelensky. The “shaken” official said the call was “frightening,” “crazy,” and “completely lacking in substance related to national security.”
While unconfirmed, it is possible that the official was Vindman, who still works withthe whistleblower on U.S.-Ukraine policy.
“The analyst does not identify the official in his July 26 memo, which was obtained by congressional investigators in the impeachment inquiry. But Vindman, in his testimony, disclosed that he had spoken to officials outside the White House within days of the Trump-Zelensky call,” according to the report.
Timothy Morrison, a former deputy assistant to the president and the National Security Council’s former senior director for Europe and Russia, testified that he “had concerns about Lieutenant Colonel Vindman’s judgment.” He added that others on the National Security Council, including the NSC’s former senior director for Europe and Russia, Dr. Fiona Hill, were wary of Vindman.
“Among the discussions I had with Dr. Hill in the transition was our team, my team, its strengths and its weaknesses,” Morrison said. “And Fiona and others had raised concerns about Alex’s judgment.”
Morrison also said that, although he never personally suspected Vindman of leaking, others had brought that concern about Vindman to him. Vindman testified, however, that he doesn’t know who the whistleblower is.
In the time between the July 25 call and the filing of the complaint, the whistleblower approached the CIA’s general counsel and then reached out to a staffer on Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff’s House Intelligence Committee, “conveying his concern only in the broadest terms before the official urged him to say no more and consult a lawyer” according to the Post.
Schiff knew about it but did not immediately inform his Republican colleagues on his panel. The Washington Examiner has reported that two ex-NSC staffers are now employed by Schiff. Abigail Grace, who worked at the NSC until 2018, was hired in February, while Sean Misko, an NSC aide until 2017, joined Schiff’s committee staff in August, the same month the whistleblower submitted his complaint.
The whistleblower also reportedly met with a friend “who is an attorney and an expert on national security law” at a coffee shop. The pair “chatted briefly” before the friend “stopped the analyst before any details were broached.”
“The friend referred the analyst to another attorney, Andrew Bakaj, who had more expertise on whistleblower procedure and law,” the Post reported. “After parting ways, the friend pulled out his iPhone and deleted a calendar item he had created for their meeting that included the whistleblower’s name.”
Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson said that his review of the whistleblower’s allegations “identified some indicia of bias of an arguable political bias on the part of the complainant in favor of a rival political candidate” but that “such evidence did not change my determination that the complaint relating to the urgent concern appears credible.”
While the whistleblower’s identity has not yet been confirmed, career CIA analyst Eric Ciaramella, 33, was named by RealClearInvestigations as the potential whistleblower. Ciaramella previously was Ukraine director on the National Security Council under President Barack Obama and then worked as acting senior director for European and Russian affairs during the Trump administration.
He is now a deputy national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia on the National Intelligence Council and works under the director of national intelligence. He had a close relationship with Biden during the Obama administration and attended a State Department banquet with him in 2016.
Ciaramella was also cited in a key passageof special counsel Robert Mueller’s report in connection to the May 2017 meeting between President Trump and Russian officials in the Oval Office the day after James Comey was fired as FBI director.
Lawyers for the whistleblower called attempts to out their client “the pinnacle of irresponsibility” and did not confirm or deny reports naming Ciaramella.