Whistleblower's complaint disqualified by DNI
- By FederalSoup Staff
- Sep 19, 2019
A federal employee in mid-August filed a whistleblower complaint to the Inspector General of the Intelligence Committee, alleging that—according to a number of media reports in the Washington Post, New York Times and wire services—the President made a promise to an as-yet unidentified foreign leader that could jeopardize the security of the United States. Whether the complaint turns out to be true or not, it’s what has happened in the short-term since that should be of especially keen interest to federal employees across all agencies.
The federal employee’s move, according to the Project on Government Oversight, a non-profit good government group, should have activated certain provisions of the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act, protecting the employee’s position if there is merit to the complaint. Specifically, as outlined in research by POGO, the acting Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire, should have referred the matter within a week of receiving it to congressional intelligence committees for their consideration.
Instead, by way of what might be a loophole in the law, Maguire did not move forward with providing appropriate parts of Congress with the information. The DNI’s general counsel has since claimed that, as the POGO piece summarizes, “because the complaint involves someone outside the intelligence community the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Act does not apply.”
Other defenders of federal employee rights, like POGO, are joining in expressing concern over the failure to inform the appropriate congressional authorities in full about the whistleblower complaint—as well as what looks like a purposeful failure to protect the whistleblower.
“What’s so troubling here is, one, that [the complaint] has been designated as being urgent—and urgent means it is a very serious national security risk,” Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), said on CNN Sept. 19. “And, secondly, that this whistleblower now may not have any of the protections for a whistleblower, because the DNI chose to inform the Department of Justice, and the Attorney General then opined that, ‘No, this doesn’t come under the whistleblower statute.”
“Which means this particular individual could be subject to reprisals,” Speier continued. “So, it’s undercutting—it’s eviscerating, frankly—the whistleblower protection law, which over its course has saved taxpayers billions of dollars in monies that were the subject of fraud or abuse, and have called out people who have violated the law.”
Speier noted that the inspector general at the center of this situation—who referred the matter to the DNI, after deeming the complaint credible and urgent, was appointed by President Trump.
The White House has pushed back against allegations of wrongdoing.