So far, we don’t know how deep the political “bias” of the Ukraine whistleblower goes. We know it exists; in an Aug. 26 letter, Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson said that the unidentified individual had “some indicia of an arguable political bias … in favor of a rival political candidate.”
As the Washington Examiner pointed out, news reports seemed to indicate that the bias may have just been that the individual was a registered Democrat.
I know a lot of conservatives thought this was big news; I wasn’t one of them. If this were true, that would mean that the whistleblower was one of, oh, 40 percent of all registered voters. This wasn’t exactly breaking news.
In fact, most sources that covered it as “breaking” seemed to do so because “some indica of an arguable political bias” would promptly disappear were this actually the case.
Breaking — A source familiar with the investigation prompted by the whistleblower tells me that the “indicia of bias of an arguable political bias on the part“ of the whistleblower referred to by the Intel Community IG, is that the whistleblower is a Registered Democrat.
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) October 3, 2019
“Give me a break!” whistleblower lawyer Mark Zaid said in a tweet “Bias? Seriously?”
I know a lot of readers probably aren’t going to agree with me, but Zaid is right — or would have been if this were the full story on the “indica of an arguable political bias.” You may not be shocked if you’re at all familiar with how the media works to find out that it allegedly isn’t.
“Now, however, there is word of more evidence of possible bias on the whistleblower’s part,” Byron York reported in the Washington Examiner on Tuesday.
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“Under questioning from Republicans during last Friday’s impeachment inquiry interview with Atkinson, the inspector general revealed that the whistleblower’s possible bias was not that he was simply a registered Democrat. It was that he had a significant tie to one of the Democratic presidential candidates currently vying to challenge President Trump in next year’s election.”
York quoted three individuals with knowledge of what Atkinson said during the impeachment inquiry interview.
“The IG said [the whistleblower] worked or had some type of professional relationship with one of the Democratic candidates,” one said.
“The IG said the whistleblower had a professional relationship with one of the 2020 candidates,” another added.
“What [Atkinson] said was that the whistleblower self-disclosed that he was a registered Democrat and that he had a prior working relationship with a current 2020 Democratic presidential candidate,” a third said.
Two things are worth noting. The first is that nobody knows who the candidate in question is — not just because the sources refused to reveal it but because Atkinson held that information back. Second, Atkinson also held back what the working or professional relationship with the candidate was.
It would obviously make a bigger difference if that individual was involved with, say Joe Biden than it would have if it were Tulsi Gabbard. It would also make a huge difference if that professional relationship was as a senior staffer for a major candidate or whether they were an intern cleaning the crystal balls Marianne Williamson uses to identify dark psychic forces or whatever.
However, this isn’t about just being a registered Democrat. And no, this isn’t something Mark Zaid (or anyone else, for that matter) can say “[g]ive me a break” over.
Yes, there are whistleblower protections for a reason and we don’t need to know every single detail regarding the whistleblower’s background.
However, when we’re dealing with an individual who has touched off an impeachment inquiry and ensured that at least 36 times more Americans know how to spell “Volodymyr” than did just four weeks ago, I think we deserve to know what “indica of an arguable political bias” this individual had.
Atkinson said that “such evidence” involving the whistleblower’s bias “did not change my determination that the complaint relating to the urgent concern ‘appears credible,’ particularly given the other information the [Intelligence Community Inspector General] obtained during its preliminary review.”
That’s fine. Eventually, Americans need to decide for themselves, and Michael Atkinson vouchsafing to us that this professional relationship — if it indeed exists — didn’t attenuate the credibility of this whistleblower report isn’t going to fly, particularly when the whistleblower report reads like a legal document and the whistleblower coordinated with top Democrats before filing the report.
Otherwise, this looks about as swampy as swampy can get: A whistleblower meets with top Democrats, including one who lies about it, then files an incredibly legalistic whistleblower report, then is revealed to have a political bias his lawyer seems to indicate simply involves being a registered Democrat.
It turns out this “indica” of bias is something a bit more entangling (something the whistleblower’s legal representation would have known), but the inspector general who received the complaint won’t disclose who the whistleblower had the professional relationship with or what it entailed, simply that it happened and that the individual is running for president.
Axios reporter Jonathan Swan also confirmed the Washington Examiner’s report in a Tuesday tweet “per a source in the room.”
Can confirm this report, per a source in the room. ICIG did not say which 2020 Dem candidate, and did not say in what capacity. Source said unclear whether working relationship in course of government service or more political. https://t.co/998h51qFsT
— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) October 8, 2019
That shouldn’t raise any alarms. I mean, it’s not like political dirty tricksters trying to get themselves elected president would ever do anything to weaken the incumbent, right? Right.
York closed his article by noting that “Republicans will want to know more about the origins of the whistleblower complaint, especially given the unorthodox use of whistleblower law involved. There is more to learn — like who the Democratic candidate is — before Republicans will say they know enough about what happened.”
It isn’t just Republicans in Congress, I think. Considering we’re about to go through the Sturm und Drang of an impeachment inquiry — an inquiry which seems like it’s being fast-tracked to facilitate impeachment — this is something every voter should want to know.
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