Defending Donald Trump is becoming an increasingly risky affair. We have reached the “last exit before toll” moment, where Trump loyalists may have one final chance to jump ship before their reputation and possibly their liberty go down with it. Defending Trump is also becoming laughably difficult because the evidence against him is so straightforward, compelling, and corroborated. Late today, we just got to witness Trump’s own government blowing one of his latest absurd defenses out of the water.
This morning, Trump rage-tweeted, “WHO CHANGED THE LONG STANDING WHISTLEBLOWER RULES JUST BEFORE SUBMITTAL OF THE FAKE WHISTLEBLOWER REPORT? DRAIN THE SWAMP!” Appearing on CBS’ “Face the Nation” yesterday, Senator Lindsey Graham also posed this question. Graham, who at this point seems to be surgically attached to Trump’s hip, took things a step further, insisting that the whistleblower would not have been able to file the “sham” complaint if it weren’t for a very recent and sneaky rule change.
This so-called controversy prompted three Republican senators — Charles Grassley, Mike Lee, and Ron Johnson — to write to Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson (the Trump appointee who deemed the whistleblower complaint to be “credible” and of “urgent concern”) for clarification. Atkinson’s office responded this evening with a no-nonsense press release that should shut down this conspiratorial defense for good.
The release made three key points that torpedo Trump’s ill-fated defense. First, the ICIG pointed out that the complaint form that this whistleblower submitted on August 12 is the same form that has been in place since May 24, 2018, almost a week before Atkinson assumed his post. Second, the ICIG clarified that a whistleblower “need not possess first-hand information” under the law. Third, the ICIG noted that the whistleblower indicated that he did, in fact, possess some first-hand information of the matter, even though that is not a requirement.
Last Wednesday, when Team Trump accidentally sent House Democrats the internal Republican talking points about Trump’s phone call with Ukraine President Zelensky, it was revealed that they wish to paint the scandal as “another example of the ‘Deep State,’ the media, and Democrats in Congress damaging our national security by leaking confidential information in an attempt to seek political gain.” But the idea that anyone changed rules to let a frivolous complaint take down Trump is weak, desperate, and wholly inaccurate—as has now been confirmed by Trump’s own appointee. As Trump’s defenses go up in smoke and his defenders continue to disappear, the only Deep State that Trump should worry about is the Deep State of Depression that will meet him in a prison cell once he realizes he is disgraced, confined, and alone.