President Trump insists his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was “perfect” — but on Thursday he said he classifies anyone who leaked information on the call to a whistleblower as “almost a spy.”
“I want to know who’s the person, who’s the person who gave the whistleblower the information? Because that’s close to a spy,” Trump said at a private event in New York, according to audio of the meeting obtained and posted by the Los Angeles Times.
“You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now,” he continued.
Trump was speaking to staff from the United States Mission to the United Nations at the Intercontinental Hotel in New York, and the remarks came as the Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testified before the House Intelligence Committee about his handling of the complaint.
Trump has said that the July phone call between him and Zelensky showed no evidence of inappropriate behavior, despite acknowledging that he asked the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who was on the board of a Ukrainian gas company for a few years.
But a whistleblower complaint about this phone call, published in full on Thursday morning, alleges that senior U.S. officials attempted to cover up the contents of the phone call by making the rough transcript classified.
“Basically, that person never saw the report, never saw the call, he never saw the call — heard something and decided that he or she, or whoever the hell they saw — they’re almost a spy,” Trump said of the whistleblower at the New York event.
House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry against Trump this week in response to the revelations.
Also on Thursday, the New York Times reported that the whistleblower works at the CIA and has a background in U.S.-Ukraine policy.
“A whistleblower with second hand information? Another Fake News Story! See what was said on the very nice, no pressure, call. Another Witch Hunt!” Trump tweeted Thursday afternoon.
Cover: President Donald Trump talks with reporters after arriving at Andrews Air Force Base, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019, in Andrews Air Force Base, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)