Sens. Chuck Grassley, Mike Lee (R-UT), and Ron Johnson (R-WI) sent a letter Monday to the inspector general of the intelligence community, demanding to know why they changed the whistleblower requirements.
Sen. Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee; Johnson, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee; and Lee, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson Monday, demanding to know why they changed the requirements for “urgent concerns” so that it would not require “direct and personal knowledge” of information they wish to reveal to the inspector general.
The GOP senators noted that the changes to the reporting standards happened in August 2019, less than one month after a male intelligence officer revealed that he had heard about President Donald Trump’s call with the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. During the call, Trump asked Zelensky about a Ukrainian investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. Joe Biden threatened to withhold foreign aid to Ukraine if they did not fire the Ukrainian prosecutor investigating Hunter Biden.
Sens. Lee, Grassley, and Johnson demanded to know why they changed the whistleblowing requirements regarding direct knowledge of an event, considering that there had been no regulation, law, or directive to change the statute.
The senators wrote in a statement Monday:
According to a recent news report, the Office of the Intelligence Community Inspector General (IC IG) changed its ‘Disclosure of Urgent Concern’ form, the document by which a whistleblower submits a complaint that can be transmitted to Congress, to no longer require first-hand knowledge of alleged wrongdoing. Specifically, the report described a previous version of the form, which was approved on May 24, 2018, that included a section titled ‘First-Hand Information Required’…
“We are not aware of any federal law, regulation, or internal directive relating to whistleblowers that require first-hand information in order for the complaint to be accepted as credible or receive legal protections, which calls into question why your office used it in the first place,” the senators wrote.
The senators also asked who was authorized to make revisions to the whistleblower requirements, which enabled the intelligence officer to reveal information regarding the president’s call with Zelensky.
The subsequent whistleblower complaint created the impetus for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and other Democrats to launch an impeachment inquiry into the president.