Trump Attacks Whistle-Blower’s Sources and Alludes to Punishment for Spies
President Trump on Thursday morning told a crowd of staff from the United States Mission to the United Nations that he wants to know who provided information to a whistle-blower about his phone call with the president of Ukraine, saying that whoever did so was “close to a spy” and that “in the old days,” spies were dealt with differently.
The remark stunned people in the audience, according to a person briefed on what took place, who had notes of what the president said. Mr. Trump made the statement about several minutes into his remarks before the group of about 50 people at the event intended to honor the United States Mission. At the outset, he condemned the former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s role in Ukraine at a time when his son Hunter Biden was on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.
Mr. Trump repeatedly referred to the whistle-blower and condemned the news media reporting on the complaint as “crooked.” He then said the whistle-blower never heard the call in question.
“I want to know who’s the person who gave the whistle-blower the information because that’s close to a spy,” Mr. Trump said. “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart with spies and treason, right? We used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”
The complaint, which was made public on Thursday morning, said that the whistle-blower obtained information about the call from multiple United States officials.
“Over the past four months, more than half a dozen U.S. officials have informed me of various facts related to this effort,” the complaint stated.
Some in the crowd laughed, the person briefed on what took place said. The event was closed to reporters, and during his remarks, the president called the news media “scum” in addition to labeling them as crooked.
Mr. Trump spoke as the director of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence was testifying before Congress that the president had never asked for the identity of the whistle-blower, whose complaint was initially withheld from Congress by the Trump administration. The complaint described concerns that the president was using his phone call with the Ukrainian president in July for personal gain to fulfill a political vendetta.
The ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Knight Craft, was in the room.
A White House spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a Twitter post later in the day, Mr. Trump referred again to the whistle-blower having “second hand information” and said it was “Another Witch Hunt!”