Suspected Whistleblower Identified, Worked with Creators of Fake Russia Collusion Narrative: Report
Has the whistleblower been identified? At least one controversial journalist believes he has the name — and he says that it “has been raised privately in impeachment depositions.”
In a Wednesday report, Paul Sperry of RealClearInvestigations wrote that the whistleblower’s “identity is an open secret inside the Beltway.” Furthermore, Sperry wrote that the whistleblower’s colleagues at the White House said the man “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.”
“More than two months after the official filed his complaint, pretty much all that’s known publicly about [the whistleblower] is that he is a CIA analyst who at one point was detailed to the White House and is now back working at the CIA,” Sperry’s report read.
“But the name of a government official fitting that description — Eric Ciaramella — has been raised privately in impeachment depositions, according to officials with direct knowledge of the proceedings, as well as in at least one open hearing held by a House committee not involved in the impeachment inquiry,” Sperry wrote. “Fearing their anonymous witness could be exposed, Democrats this week blocked Republicans from asking more questions about him and intend to redact his name from all deposition transcripts.”
First, before we begin with the evidence, let’s here acknowledge that Sperry is a contentious figure in Beltway circles. He’s very clearly a Trump partisan; the Washington Examiner’s report on Sperry’s findings described him as a man “whom critics accuse of trading in disinformation and conspiracy theories.”
The Examiner also said it had “established … that there was at least one significant factual inaccuracy in the report,” although it didn’t make it explicitly clear what that factual inaccuracy was.
That said, Sperry is a solid, reliable journalist, one who’s previously reported similar information about the whistleblower. Either way, caveat lector.
In his report, Sperry pointed out links between Ciaramella, a former intelligence analyst, and what’s known about the whistleblower thus far. Other details would also explain why the word “bias” is so frequently mentioned when the whistleblower is discussed.
“Federal documents reveal that the 33-year-old Ciaramella, a registered Democrat held over from the Obama White House, previously worked with former Vice President Joe Biden and former CIA Director John Brennan, a vocal critic of Trump who helped initiate the Russia ‘collusion’ investigation of the Trump campaign during the 2016 election,” Sperry wrote.
It was previously reported that the whistleblower had worked closely with Biden, a fact that would explain Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s original report on the complaint stating that the complainant had “some indicia of an arguable political bias … in favor of a rival political candidate.”
Other puzzle pieces seemed to fit, as well.
“A CIA officer specializing in Russia and Ukraine, Ciaramella was detailed over to the National Security Council from the agency in the summer of 2015, working under Susan Rice, President Obama’s national security adviser. He also worked closely with the former vice president,” the report read.
“Federal records show that Biden’s office invited Ciaramella to an October 2016 state luncheon the vice president hosted for Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Other invited guests included Brennan, as well as then-FBI Director James Comey and then-National Intelligence Director James Clapper.
“Several U.S. officials told RealClearInvestigations that the invitation that was extended to Ciaramella, 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 [National Security Council] by Brennan.”
Sperry also reported that “Ciaramella huddled for ‘guidance’ with the staff of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, including former colleagues also held over from the Obama era whom Schiff’s office had recently recruited from the NSC.”
The whistleblower met with Schiff’s staff prior to filing his complaint.
One complication in naming Ciaramella as the whistleblower is that he hasn’t been in the White House since 2017, leaving slightly after the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller. He’s currently a CIA analyst.
“My recollection of Eric is that he was very smart and very passionate, particularly about Ukraine and Russia. That was his thing – Ukraine,” a former White House official told Sperry. “He didn’t exactly hide his passion with respect to what he thought was the right thing to do with Ukraine and Russia, and his views were at odds with the president’s policies.
“So I wouldn’t be surprised if he was the whistleblower.”
Furthermore, Ciaramella left the White House after concerns that he was leaking to the press, Sperry reported. One NSC official, according to Sperry, said that Ciaramella had been “accused of working against Trump and leaking against Trump.”
Sperry wrote that a 40-page dossier that’s been assembled by former colleagues of Ciaramella claimed that he was responsible for the “Putin fired Comey” story after an email he wrote to another agency — which went “outside his chain of command” — stated that the president met with Russian diplomats at the White House one day after he fired the FBI director. That email would end up in the media.
The 40-page document has apparently convinced many Republicans that Ciaramella is the whistleblower. His name, according to Sperry, has been mentioned during the closed-door impeachment inquiry hearings on Capitol Hill, something that’s infuriated Democrats. Mentions of Ciaramella’s name have also allegedly caused Schiff, who’s heading the impeachment inquiry, to limit the questions being asked by Republicans.
Sperry wrote that Ciaramella had been mentioned during NSC official Fiona Hill’s testimony — Hill worked with Ciaramella in the West Wing and was another holdover from the Obama years — and that it had led to an exchange of invective during a hearing involving the Democrats’ latest star witness.
“During Tuesday’s deposition of NSC official Alexander Vindman, Democrats shut down a line of inquiry by Republicans because they said it risked revealing the identity of the whistleblower,” Sperry reported.
“Republicans wanted to know with whom Vindman spoke within the administration about his concerns regarding Trump’s call to Ukraine. But Schiff instructed the witness not to answer the questions, which reportedly sparked a shouting match between Democrats and Republicans.”
“Their reaction tells you something,” one official involved with the impeachment inquiry told Sperry.
Why is Ciaramella’s identity important? In addition to the leaks and his disagreement with the Trump administration’s Ukraine policy, there are his connections to the DNC operative.
“The operative, Alexandra Chalupa, a Ukrainian-American who supported Hillary Clinton, led an effort to link the Republican campaign to the Russian government,” Sperry wrote.
“Documents confirm the DNC opposition researcher attended at least one White House meeting with Ciaramella in November 2015. She visited the White House with a number of Ukrainian officials lobbying the Obama administration for aid for Ukraine.”
“He knows her. He had her in the White House,” one of Ciaramella’s colleagues told Sperry.
According to the Washington Examiner, the whistleblower’s lawyers refused to confirm or deny the article’s veracity and reacted angrily to Sperry’s report — and to any outlet that would report on it.
“Our client is legally entitled to anonymity. Disclosure of the name of any person who may be suspected to be the whistleblower places that individual and their family in great physical danger,” lawyers Mark Zaid and Andrew Bakaj said in a statement to the Examiner.
“Any physical harm the individual and/or their family suffers as a result of disclosure means that the individuals and publications reporting such names will be personally liable for that harm. Such behavior is at the pinnacle of irresponsibility and is intentionally reckless.”
While we don’t necessarily agree — hence our report — it’s again worth noting that you should proceed with caution here.
Sperry is very often right and the report appears to be solidly well-sourced one. Ciaramella’s name has also appeared not infrequently in whistleblower speculation on social media and blogs.
That being said, RealClearInvestigations has changed the headline of the article not once but twice. The original, “‘Whistleblower’ Exposed,” was apparently too strong for the gatekeepers there. It got changed to “How ‘Whistleblower’ May Be Outed,” according to the Examiner, within two hours after publication. As of Thursday morning, the headline was “The Beltway’s ‘Whistleblower’ Furor Obsesses Over One Name.”
The report also includes almost no one on record. Given the sensitive nature of what Sperry is reporting, this isn’t too surprising. That being said, reports with anonymous sources are, by their very nature, more likely to be wrong. We can also guess that, given Sperry’s leanings, the people who are talking to him are likely pro-Trump in their political outlook; let’s not pretend that doesn’t make any difference.
With all of those asterisks, if this report is correct, the impeachment inquiry just got a lot more complicated for Democrats, particularly since they’ve been backing away from having the whistleblower testify. And, both Sperry and his sources seem pretty assured they’re on the right track.
“Everyone knows who he is. CNN knows. The Washington Post knows. The New York Times knows. Congress knows. The White House knows. Even the president knows who he is,” Fred Flietz, a former National Security Council chief of staff, told Sperry.
If he’s right, America is about to know, too.
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