Trump furiously demands info on the whistleblower — and issues suggested execution threat: reports
The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman is reporting that at a United Nations event on Thursday, President Donald Trump angrily demanded to know who gave information to the government whistleblower who made a complaint about his July 25 conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Haberman told CNN that when Trump was speaking at a UN breakfast at the Intercontinental Hotel in New York City, he railed against the media as well as former Vice President Joe Biden. Trump is facing an impeachment inquiry in the U.S. House of Representatives over reports that he asked Zelensky to dig up dirt on his political rival as well as Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.
Haberman, describing Trump’s remarks at the UN event, told CNN, “The president, from the outset, was hot about the whistleblower, hot about the Bidens, hot about the media, referred to the media as scum, said other things about the Biden family and then said there was nothing wrong with his phone call — before he was several minutes into his remarks — and said the whistleblower didn’t hear the call, and he wanted to know who the whistleblower had heard things from. He said that was, quote, ‘close to a spy.’”
At that point, according to Haberman's description, Trump’s remarks took a threatening turn — and it seems like he was calling for the execution of the whistleblower and White House aides who worked with the whistleblower. He said of "spies and treason" that "we used to handle it a little differently," she reported. U.S. law says treason is punishable by death.
The Times reporter told CNN, “Some people in the audience laughed. Some people seemed to be stunned.”
Trump’s remarks at the UN event have also been confirmed by the Los Angeles Times’ Eli Stokols.
“Basically, that person never saw the report, never saw the call, he never saw the call — heard something and decided that he or she or whoever the hell they saw — they’re almost a spy,” Stokols recounted Trump as saying. "I want to know who’s the person, who’s the person who gave the whistleblower the information? Because that’s close to a spy. You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”
CNN, speaking to Haberman, noted that although Trump was accusing the whistleblower and White House aides of treasonous acts, the whistleblower went through official channels when reporting the information and is therefore, protected under federal law. And Haberman predicted, “We’re probably going to see the same from the president. We’re headed into uncharted territory.”
Haberman noted that Trump isn’t known for choosing his words carefully but indicated that in light of the Ukraine scandal, things he says carelessly will be taken more seriously. She added: “We know this is a president that doesn’t typically have discipline in terms of what he says…. The weight of these kinds of remarks will be viewed very differently.”
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