Comments made by President Donald Trump alarmed a group of United Nations staffers he was speaking to on Thursday, regarding a complaint that was made public by an intelligence community whistleblower earlier that morning.
Speaking to about 50 members of the United States Mission to the United Nations, Trump compared the whistleblower and those who provided them with information regarding a conversation he had with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky as being similar to acting as a spy within the U.S. government. Trump also suggested the actions taken by those individuals was comparable to treason.
Several individuals were stunned by the president’s remarks, an individual who was briefed on the matter told the New York Times. The source had notes from the meeting that had been taken while the president spoke to members of the Mission.
Trump compared the author of the whistleblower complaint to a "spy" and suggested the official engaged in treason. https://t.co/jdcreEQIwt
— Global Analytica (@AnalyticaGlobal) September 26, 2019
“I want to know who’s the person who gave the whistle-blower the information because that’s close to a spy,” Trump allegedly said. “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart with spies and treason, right? We used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”
The penalty for treason in the United States can be death, according to U.S. Code, although it doesn’t necessarily have to result in capital punishment, depending on the circumstances. This is not the first time Trump has invoked charges of treason against individuals he has deemed as going against his presidency.
The copy of the whistleblower’s complaint was made public Thursday morning by the House Intelligence Committee.
The complaint makes a number of allegations, among them that the administration sought to conceal communications with the president of Ukraine that demonstrated Trump had asked him to investigate political rival Joe Biden, who is running for president in the Democratic primaries.
The whistleblower themselves didn’t hear Trump make the request, but had “more than half a dozen U.S. officials” within the intelligence community inform them that Trump had sought to have “a foreign country to investigate one of the President’s main domestic political rivals,” according to a previous report from HillReporter.com.