Trump compared the whistleblower, and those who spoke to the whistleblower, to treasonous spies.
Donald Trump suggested this week that both the whistleblower who flagged concerns about his July phone call with the Ukrainian president, and those within his own administration who spoke to the whistleblower, were traitors who should be put to death.
Trump made the startling declaration at a breakfast event in New York City, according to a recording of the event obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
"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.
"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," he said. "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."
Treason is a crime punishable by death. With his comments, Trump appeared to be suggesting that the whistleblower — as well as those who gave them information about his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — was a spy who should be executed.
Meanwhile, as Trump spoke at the New York event Thursday morning, his handpicked acting director of national intelligence sat before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill and testified that the whistleblower had followed the law and acted in good faith.
"I think the whistleblower did the right thing," Maguire told the committee.
Maguire further emphasized that he would protect whistleblowers within the intelligence community from retaliation.
Trump's comments on Thursday are hardly the first time he has summoned the specter of "treason" to threaten political enemies. In fact, it is at least the 25th time Trump has accused someone, or something, of acting as a traitor, according to Axios.
Among those who have committed treason, according to Trump: those behind the Russia investigation, the Russia investigation itself, Democrats who speak about North Korea, Democrats who take action to protect immigrants at the southern border, Hillary Clinton, and newspapers such as the Washington Post and New York Times.
Trump has also expressed displeasure recently over congressional Democrats' oversight of his administration, specifically the party's impeachment efforts. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced earlier this week that Democrats would open formal impeachment inquiries into his actions, namely his attempt this summer to persuade the Ukrainian president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, one of Trump's 2020 election rivals.
Soliciting election help from a foreign government is illegal according to the Federal Election Commission and Intelligence Community inspector general.
On Wednesday, Trump declared that Pelosi was no longer House speaker and that the party had been "taken over" by "radical leftists" trying to oust him from office.
"Nancy Pelosi, as far as I'm concerned, unfortunately, she's no longer speaker of the House," Trump said.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.