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The whistleblower whose complaint kicked off the impeachment drive against President Trump may himself have illegally solicited foreign donations, a new whistleblower has claimed, in a story that gets more farcical by the day.
In a complaint filed to the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) last week and reported by Fox News on Tuesday, an anonymous whistleblower claims that a GoFundMe campaign to cover the impeachment whistleblower’s legal costs may have breached federal law, as the $227,500 in donations “clearly constitutes” gifts to a serving intelligence official.
What’s more, the complaint alleges that some of these 6,000 donors could be based outside the US. As such, the whistleblower has asked the ICIG to probe whether any “foreign citizen or agent of a foreign government” contributed.
Confused? Let’s recap. Back in August an anonymous intelligence official approached the ICIG, complaining that President Donald Trump sought to withhold military aid to Ukraine, in exchange for Kiev reopening a corruption case against Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. The whistleblower claimed that a phone call between Trump and newly-elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky provided evidence of this quid pro quo arrangement, yet a transcript of the call released by Trump revealed nothing bar a request to reopen the corruption probe.
Nevertheless, Democrats opened an impeachment inquiry against the president, a closed-door affair that was rubber-stamped by a House vote last month.
Republicans have demanded the whistleblower reveal himself and testify at forthcoming impeachment hearings, as has Trump himself. Democrats, led by House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff (D-California), have insisted he remain anonymous, and lashed out at Trump’s son Donald Jr. last week when he referenced media reports that the whistleblower was CIA officer Eric Ciaramella, who had a history of “anti-Trump” activity.
With nothing certain, and with both whistleblowers anonymous, all the impeachment inquiry has had to go on are Trump’s transcript, which he said shows a “perfect” phone call with Zelensky, and Schiff’s dramatized interpretation of the call, ridiculed by critics as “unhinged Orange Man Bad fan fiction.”
Testimony from a cohort of officials privy to the call has since failed to provide the ‘smoking gun’ Schiff needs to prove the quid pro quo he has accused Trump of.
Regardless of whether the latest whistleblower violated federal law or not, he or she is maintaining the murky tradition of turning anti-Trump sentiment into cold, hard cash. Former FBI Director Andrew McCabe and former agent Peter Strzok have both used GoFundMe to raise over a million dollars combined.
More audaciously, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen used the crowdfunding site last year to pull in $217,144 after he publicly severed his ties with the president and promised to dish dirt on his former employer. What eager #resistance donors weren’t told, however, was that Cohen had splashed out $6.7 million on a luxury New York City apartment four months earlier.
Speaking truth to power is an American tradition. In the age of Trump, profiting handsomely from truth-telling is fast becoming a tradition too.