Barely two weeks after Donald Trump took office, Eric Ciaramella – the CIA analyst whose name was recently linked in a tweet by the president and mentioned by lawmakers as the anonymous “whistleblower” who touched off Trump’s impeachment – was overheard in the White House discussing with another staffer how to remove the newly elected president from office, according to former colleagues.
Sources told RealClearInvestigations the staffer with whom Ciaramella was speaking was Sean Misko. Both were Obama administration holdovers working in the Trump White House on foreign policy and national security issues. And both expressed anger over Trump’s new “America First” foreign policy, a sea change from President Obama’s approach to international affairs.
“Just days after he was sworn in they were already talking about trying to get rid of him,” said a White House colleague who overheard their conversation.
“They weren’t just bent on subverting his agenda,” the former official added. “They were plotting to actually have him removed from office.”
Misko left the White House last summer to join House impeachment manager Adam Schiff’s committee, where sources say he offered “guidance” to the whistleblower, who has been officially identified only as an intelligence officer in a complaint against Trump filed under whistleblower laws. Misko then helped run the impeachment inquiry based on that complaint as a top investigator for congressional Democrats.
The probe culminated in Trump’s impeachment last month on a party-line vote in the House of Representatives. Schiff and other House Democrats last week delivered the articles of impeachment to the Senate, and are now pressing the case for his removal during the trial, which began Tuesday.
The coordination between the official believed to be the whistleblower and a key Democratic staffer, details of which are disclosed here for the first time, undercuts the narrative that impeachment developed spontaneously out of what Trump’s Democratic antagonists call the “patriotism” of an “apolitical civil servant.”
Two former co-workers said they overheard Ciaramella and Misko, close friends and Democrats, discussing how to “take out,” or remove, the new president from office within days of Trump’s inauguration. These co-workers said the president’s controversial Ukraine phone call in July 2019 provided the pretext they and their Democratic allies had been looking for.
“They didn’t like his policies,” another former White House official said. “They had a political vendetta against him from Day One.”
Their efforts were part of a larger pattern of coordination to build a case for impeachment, involving Democratic leaders as well as anti-Trump figures both inside and outside of government.
All unnamed sources for this article spoke only on condition that they not be further identified or described. Although strong evidence points to Ciaramella as the government employee who lodged the whistleblower complaint, he has not been officially identified as such. As a result, this article makes a distinction between public information released about the unnamed whistleblower/CIA analyst and specific information about Ciaramella.
Democrats based their impeachment case on the whistleblower complaint, which alleges that President Trump sought to help his re-election campaign by demanding that Ukraine’s leader investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter in exchange for military aid. Yet Schiff, who heads the House Intelligence Committee, and other Democrats have insisted on keeping the identity of the whistleblower secret, citing concern for his safety, while arguing that his testimony no longer matters because other witnesses and documents have “corroborated” what he alleged in his complaint about the Ukraine call.
Republicans have fought unsuccessfully to call him as a witness, arguing that his motivations and associations are relevant – and that the president has the same due-process right to confront his accuser as any other American.
The whistleblower’s candor is also being called into question. It turns out that the CIA operative failed to report his contacts with Schiff’s office to the intelligence community’s inspector general who fielded his whistleblower complaint. He withheld the information both in interviews with the inspector general, Michael Atkinson, and in writing, according to impeachment committee investigators. The whistleblower form he filled out required him to disclose whether he had “contacted other entities” — including “members of Congress.” But he left that section blank on the disclosure form he signed.
The investigators say that details about how the whistleblower consulted with Schiff’s staff and perhaps misled Atkinson about those interactions are contained in the transcript of a closed-door briefing Atkinson gave to the House Intelligence Committee last October. However, Schiff has sealed the transcript from public view. It is the only impeachment witness transcript out of 18 that he has not released.
Schiff has classified the document “Secret,” preventing Republicans who attended the Atkinson briefing from quoting from it. Even impeachment investigators cannot view it outside a highly secured room, known as a “SCIF,” in the basement of the Capitol. Members must first get permission from Schiff, and they are forbidden from bringing phones into the SCIF or from taking notes from the document.
While the identity of the whistleblower remains unconfirmed, at least officially, Trump recently retweeted a message naming Ciaramella, while Republican Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. Louie Gohmert of the House Judiciary Committee have publicly demanded that Ciaramella testify about his role in the whistleblower complaint.
During last year’s closed-door House depositions of impeachment witnesses, Ciaramella’s name was invoked in heated discussions about the whistleblower, as RealClearInvestigations first reported Oct. 30, and has appeared in at least one testimony transcript. Congressional Republicans complain Schiff and his staff counsel have redacted his name from other documents.
Lawyers representing the whistleblower have neither confirmed nor denied that Ciaramella is their client. In November, after Donald Trump Jr. named Ciaramella and cited RCI’s story in a series of tweets, however, they sent a “cease and desist” letter to the White House demanding Trump and his “surrogates” stop “attacking” him. And just as the whistleblower complaint was made public in September, Ciaramella’s social media postings and profiles were scrubbed from the Internet.
‘Take Out’ the President
Ciaramella in early 2017 expressed hostility toward the newly elected president during White House meetings, his co-workers said in interviews with RealClearInvestigations. They added that Ciaramella sought to have Trump removed from office long before the filing of the whistleblower complaint.
A question not read but Justice Roberts, Reworded by Cruz and company, Schiff didn’t answer but treated it as an attack on his staff, few didnt notice the deflection, non answer.
Question of the day; Senator Paul only mention L’il Eric’s name as being a former member of the Obama Administration, never using the word whistleblower . How did Roberts know L’il Eric is the suspected whistleblower?
@retire05: One would expect the chief justice to be at least slightly informed , but but but who told him to beware of questions by Paul, as he did not seem to proofread anyone elses questions, and swallowed hard after reading Cruz’s
The amendments requested by the prosecution were so cute!
I don’t trust Roberts. Touted as an “ultra” conservative originalist, he is anything but.
@retire05: Agreed on Mr. Unreliable. I miss Scalia you would never see the Dems ask for him to be in charge.
@kitt: @retire05: Or, was Roberts doing what he could to expose the “whistle blower”? Schiff was simply too gutless to risk having this weasel questioned and he exposed him by blocking him being called. Roberts did the same thing.
@Deplorable Me: It was the Guys way of reminding Schifty what Mitch told him, without testimony from the WB impeachment was a non starter.
Some pesky obscure constitutional law about the right to face your accuser.
so where is this alleged whistleblower? roberts is truely a fine pice of liberal human excrement on the court. Trump should replace him.
I believe Roberts knows the name of the coupster (L’il Eric is by no means a “whistleblower”) and so he shut Rand Paul down. But Ted Cruz basically reconstructed the question having known Roberts for 25 years and knowing what Roberts would accept.
It is not over. The Dems have become totally unhinged (see Comrade Greggie) and this will continue. But in the end, even those few (still) sane leftists will realize their elected Democrats are failing to work for those who elected them.
I believe Adam Schiff will go down in history as McCarthy Part Deux and will not be kind to him.
See if Adam is still wearing as much make-up on Mondays closing arguments, he will still be crying that he couldnt bully the Senate and change the constitution to suit his tyrant agenda.
The plotting issues began well before we cast ballots in 2016, they turned more urgent after DT and his drain the swamp exposed what a dangerous swamp has evolved.
@retire05: Well, the Democrats HAVE to continue this attack strategy because they’re three years into Trump’s first term and they’ve done NOTHING ELSE. It’s far too late to suddenly begin proposing legislation someone besides a Che shirt peddler would find appealing. They’ve got nothing else and they don’t know how to do anything else.
Oh, the House Democrats have passed legislation (as Comrade Greggie is quick to state) but most of the bills are such radical left wing crap there is no chance those bills will ever clear the Senate.
And the Democrats have a real Bernie problem. San Fran Nan is already ringing the alarm bell. The fissure is small now but it is going to turn into the Grand Canyon.
@retire05: Like I said, nothing to help the American people, just ballot-stuffing measures to benefit Democrats.