Let’s face some facts: We have a pretty good idea who the whistleblower is. He’s still the “alleged whistleblower,” of course. However, that allegation seems to be less of a hunch or a conspiracy theory (depending on your positionality in this whole fracas) and something more substantive than an educated guess at this point.
That’s not quite how the mainstream media frames it. To them, this is all right-wing media theorizing that’s bled over into the White House and Congress, and every time we mention the name we’re irresponsibly putting a great American patriot in grave danger — assuming, of course, it’s him, which we have no evidence that it’s not.
The lack of any denial in that construction is curious indeed, but I digress. The name is out there thanks to a piece by controversial journalist Paul Sperry for RealClearInvestigations.
Sperry made the case that former White House intelligence analyst Eric Ciaramella, the National Security Council’s Ukraine director during the Obama administration and during the early days of the Trump administration, was the individual who originally lodged the complaint against Trump. It was compelling if not entirely believable.
The immediate anaphylactic reaction to the Sperry piece inside the Beltway, however, made me reconsider just how wrong I was. When one sees a blizzard of jeremiads all conspicuously lacking any sort of denial, it’s pretty apparent something’s up.
The biggest issue raised by Sperry’s piece was that the “some indicia of an arguable political bias” Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Horowitz described in his initial report was far more pervasive than previously assumed. If Ciaramella was the whistleblower, he was a man tied at the hip with Biden and who had plenty of other connections in Washington, although generally not with Jeff Sessions types.
The question became how close Ciaramella was with Biden and what kind of bias he might have had toward the candidate — particularly when the issue of Burisma was involved.
In that vein, I point you to a Thursday piece in the Washington Examiner in which Daniel Chaitin and Jerry Dunleavy note the fact that he “was a guest of Vice President Joe Biden at a glitzy lunch in October 2016 to honor the prime minister of Italy.”
“Ciaramella, 33, is listed among dozens of other people who were invited to the October 2016 event hosted by Biden under the category ‘WH EOVP,’ or the White House Executive Office of the Vice President, in an unclassified State Department document released through the Freedom of Information Act. An ‘A’ appears next to his name, indicating he accepted the invitation,” the Examiner reported.
“Besides inviting Ciaramella, Biden’s office, as opposed to the State Department or another entity, sent invitations to more than thirty other people, including Obama press secretary Josh Earnest, Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, Obama Homeland Security adviser Lisa Monaco, Obama speechwriter Ben Rhodes, and Obama national security adviser Susan Rice,” the report added.
However, it did mention that a number of Obama-era bigwigs — James Comey, James Clapper and Loretta Lynch among them — declined their invitations.
However, the report seems to confirm part of the Sperry article — that the invitation was not only extended to Ciaramella but that the invitation to “a relatively low-level GS-13 federal employee, was unusual and signaled he was politically connected inside the Obama White House.”
“Former White House officials said Ciaramella worked on Ukrainian policy issues for Biden in 2015 and 2016, when the vice president was President Obama’s ‘point man’ for Ukraine. A Yale graduate, Ciaramella is said to speak Russian and Ukrainian, as well as Arabic. He had been assigned to the NSC by [John] Brennan.”
Clearly this is a guy who could be objective about an investigation, which may have dragged Joe Biden’s poll numbers down further than a canned Kamala Harris debate bit. I certainly believe it.
One must caution that confirming one fact from an article doesn’t confirm the whole of the article.
Attending a luncheon for an Italian prime minister who wasn’t entirely beloved does not a whistleblower make, after all. Many of the other claims in the Sperry article — that Ciaramella had a hand in pumping innuendoes about Russians convincing Trump to fire James Comey into public circulation or that he “worked with a Democratic National Committee operative who dug up dirt on the Trump campaign during the 2016 election, inviting her into the White House for meetings” — remain totally unconfirmed.
On Wednesday, the whistleblower’s lawyers made their usual pro forma diatribe against anyone who dared mention Ciaramella’s name — not that he’s the whistleblower or anything, mind you.
“Identifying any suspected name for the whistleblower will place their family at risk of serious harm. We will not confirm or deny any name that is published or promoted by supporters of the president. Disclosure of any name undermines the integrity of the whistleblower system and will deter any future whistleblowers,” Andrew Bakaj and Mark Zaid said in a Wednesday statement.
“We will note, however, that publication or promotion of a name shows the desperation to deflect from the substance of the whistleblower complaint. It will not relieve the president of the need to address the substantive allegation, all of which have been substantially proven to be true.”
Except the whistleblower complaint will now hinge upon whether or not Trump’s initiatives in Ukraine can be viewed as a legitimate exercise of power or a witch hunt against his political opponents. It doesn’t help when, among other things, the alleged whistleblower is so close to Joe Biden.
Where this leads is anyone’s guess, but if Ciaramella is indeed the whistleblower, the whole indicia of bias thing is going to be very tough for him to shake off.
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