The intelligence community secretly removed the requirement that whistleblowers must have "first-hand information" of wrongdoings in order to fast-track allegations to Congress prior to a CIA officer's complaint against President Donald Trump, reducing the threshold for informants to merely check a box stating, "I heard about it from others."
What are the details?
According to a report from The Federalist, the rule change was made sometime between May 2018 and August 2019 — the same month an unnamed CIA officer submitted a "Disclosure of Urgent Concern" form reporting allegations that President Trump violated the law.
The whistleblower's complaint noted that he or she was "not a direct witness" to the allegations made against President Trump. But prior to the new form changes, any whistleblower was required to have "first-hand knowledge" in order for consideration to be granted at all.
As The Federalist's Sean Davis wrote, "This raises questions about the intelligence community's behavior."
The form changes were first discovered by researcher Stephen McIntyre, who shared the before-and-after forms on Twitter. The previous "Urgent Concern Disclosure Form" had a paragraph noting in bold type: "First-hand information required," spelling out that any "credible" complainant "must be in possession of reliable, first-hand information" — not "second-hand or unsubstantiated assertions."
Yet, the whistleblower admitted in their complaint against President Trump that they were "not a direct witness to most of the events described," but thought the information leaked to them was "credible because, in almost all cases, multiple officials recounted fact patterns that were consistent with one another."
The news of the rule change further complicates an already controversial impeachment inquiry into President Trump, which was based on the purported whistleblower's concerns. As of this writing, the whistleblower remains unnamed, and none of his or her sources have come forward to corroborate the claims.
President Trump did, however, release the transcript of a call he had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in an effort to refute the accusations made by the anonymous informant.