Federal records indicate that the intelligence community secretly made changes to the formal whistleblower complaint form in August 2019 that eliminated the requirement of direct, first-hand knowledge of wrongdoing by those filing a formal complaint.
Since the intelligence community secretly eliminated this requirement of direct, first-hand knowledge of alleged wrongdoings, this change raises concerns about the recent submission of a whistleblower complaint against President Trump, which is the supposed basis for impeachment talks.
The recently edited version of the whistleblower complaint form eliminates the original first-hand knowledge requirement and allows employees to file a whistleblower complaint and have their concerns expedited to Congress even if they have no direct knowledge. It even allows them to file a complaint if they simply “heard about [wrongdoing] from others.”
The original version of the whistleblower complaint document which was recently provided to potential whistleblowers indicated that all complaints must contain only first-hand knowledge of alleged wrongdoing and that complaints that offer only rumor, gossip, or hearsay would be rejected.
“The [Intelligence Community Inspector General] cannot transmit information via the ICPWA based on an employee’s second-hand knowledge of wrongdoing,” was written on the original form under the bolded heading “FIRST-HAND INFORMATION REQUIRED.” “This includes information received from another person, such as when an employee informs you that he/she witnessed some type of wrongdoing.”
An additional comment of the form said, “If you think that wrongdoing took place but can provide nothing more than second-hand or unsubstantiated assertions, [the Intelligence Community Inspector General] will not be able to process the complaint or information for submission as an ICWPA.”
Although there is no specific date of the revision that has been disclosed, the markings on the document indicate that the revisions were made in August 2019. The digital properties of the newly revised “Disclosure of Urgent Concern” form also shows that it was uploaded to the server on September 24, 2019, at 4:25 p.m., only a few days before the complaint about President Donald Trump’s conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart was declassified and released to the public.
The whistleblower complaint indicates that the president broke the law during a phone call with the president of Ukraine. In the complaint dated August 12, 2019, the complainant admitted that he was “not a direct witness” to the alleged wrongdoing he accused the president committed.
A recently released legal opinion and a transcript of the phone call indicated that the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) determined that the complainant’s submission was “statutorily deficient” and therefore it was not required to be submitted to Congress. In an effort to show complete transparency, President Trump directed the White House to declassify and release the transcript to Congress anyway.
A Director of National Intelligence official denied comments about any questions on the secret revision to the whistleblower form when asked when the revision was made as well as the reason for the change.