Like a typical crime boss, Donald Trump isn’t too big on those who rat him out. All through the campaign and the early days of his presidency, he vowed to chisel away at the First Amendment, saying that journalists shouldn’t be allowed to have anonymous sources, particularly not ones who were in Trump’s inner circle. Now he’s in trouble yet again because of anonymous whistleblowers in the CIA who caught him in the act. He’s got another problem involving whistleblowers and it has nothing to do with Ukraine.
One of the (very) few positive things you could say about Trump’s 2016 campaign was that he promised to improve the Department of Veterans Affairs, even if this was mainly because he needed the support of veterans who consistently vote Republican and because there was a lot of bipartisan support for this kind of thing. When he became president, it looked like he was actually fulfilling this promise by supporting the creation of an Accountability and Whistleblower Protection office by executive order, to listen to and protect the jobs of people who reported abusive practices at VA hospitals.
Of course, nearly anything Trump offers that seems like a good deal is typically a bad one. According to a new inspector general report released Thursday, the office acted in pretty much the exact opposite way it was intended – saying that in its two years of operation, the office failed to conduct unbiased investigations and also failed to take basic steps that would protect the identity of whistleblowers who came forward. They also failed to take measures that make sure people who come forward aren’t subject to retaliatory investigations.
This seems like just another part of Trump’s tendency to put people in charge of government agencies who want to dismantle those same agencies – and the report is beginning to reveal how horrific things can get if he gets his way. Of all the horrific problems the Trump administration has created on the world stage, this is one of the most despicable ones he’s created at home – and one that will directly hit many of his own supporters.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making