A conservative watchdog group is planning to fight the CIA and Department of Justice (DOJ) over an alleged “cover-up” to protect the so-called Ukraine whistleblower.
Judicial Watch announced last week that it will press on with lawsuits against the two federal agencies after they refused to provide information about the anonymous CIA officer whose complaint Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and other House Democrats latched onto as the basis of their impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, which ended in his acquittal by the Senate earlier this month. The group’s president, Tom Fitton, used the term “cover-up” to describe the alleged stonewalling.
In December, Fitton’s group filed lawsuits against the CIA and DOJ for the whistleblower’s emails and other communications after both agencies denied Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Fitton sought the whistleblower’s communications with former FBI agent Peter Strzok, former FBI attorney Lisa Page, and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe — all of whom Trump has all accused of trying to overthrow him — as well as the whistleblower’s emails at the CIA from June 2016 to November 2019.
Both agencies refused to confirm or deny the existence of those records in their responses to Judicial Watch. The DOJ cited the alleged whistleblower’s privacy, while the CIA said that the information is protected by laws dealing with classified information.
Throughout the impeachment saga, Republicans repeatedly called for the whistleblower to be exposed — particularly after it became apparent that he had contact with staffers for Rep. Schiff, who led the charge to oust Trump in his role as House Intelligence Committee chairman. Fitton, for his part, says the agencies are now covering up for the whistleblower and Schiff, who repeatedly denied knowing the whistleblower’s identity and claimed that it was dangerous to name him.
“The CIA and Justice Department are covering up information about the alleged whistleblower behind the abusive impeachment of President Trump,” Fitton said in a statement. “The incredible secrecy about his activities shows that the DOJ and CIA are trying to cover-up rather than expose any agency abuses that led to unprecedented attacks on President Trump.”
Adding to questions that have lingered about the whistleblower since his anonymous complaint about a phone call set off five months of partisan impeachment warfare, Fitton has also noted that the man alleged to be the whistleblower worked for both Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, and that his name was mentioned in Robert Mueller’s spring 2019 report.
He also worked at the National Security Council (NSC) on Ukraine issues until he was fired in June 2017, according to RealClearInvestigations. Some Trump allies have alleged that the whistleblower was made aware of the phone call because of a leak — perhaps from former NSC member Alexander Vindman, who Trump recently reassigned.
“It looks like [Vindman] gave this call, content, to his ally in the CIA, and if it was done for any reason other than ‘need to know’, then it would have been a crime,” Fitton said in a video published Judicial Watch’s Facebook page on Thursday. “And the Justice Department ought to be investigating that.”
The whistleblower’s work in Ukraine policy reportedly included work with former Vice President Joe Biden, whose dealings in the country were also at the heart of the impeachment drama. Fitton’s group has reportedly filed lawsuits against the State Department having to do with Burisma Holdings, the controversial Ukrainian gas company where Biden’s son, Hunter, worked.
Senate Republicans including Lindsey Graham (SC) have continued to show interest in hearing from the whistleblower, according to the Washington Examiner, but there are signs that country has largely moved on. Fitton, however, thinks that’s a mistake to forget about the “coup.”
“We’re all supposed to forget that, right?” Fitton lamented in a video. “Just move on, talk about the primary or debates, whatever the latest flavor of the day is. Well, you can see the president hasn’t forgotten about it. He’s still concerned about corruption. And nor has Judicial Watch forgotten about it.”