The Intelligence Community Inspector General released a statement admitting the office changed its forms for whistleblowers between May 2018 and August 2019, as The Federalist first reported. As The Federalist’s Sean Davis noted, “The new complaint document no longer requires potential whistleblowers who wish to have their concerns expedited to Congress to have direct, first-hand knowledge of the alleged wrongdoing that they are reporting.”
The timing of the change is important, as it bookends the period when an anonymous person filed a whistleblower complaint against President Donald Trump for a phone call with the president of Ukraine. In the call, the president asked the Ukrainians to continue investigating political corruption that may implicate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.
In a statement on processing whistleblower complaints, the IG admitted they changed the forms:
In June 2019, the newly hired Director for the Center for Protected Disclosures entered on duty. Thus, the Center for Protected Disclosures has been reviewing the forms provided to whistleblowers who wish to report information with respect to an urgent concern to the congressional intelligence committees. In the process of reviewing and clarifying those forms, and in response to recent press inquiries regarding the instant whistleblower complaint, the ICIG understood that certain language in those forms and, more specifically, the informational materials accompanying the forms, could be read – incorrectly – as suggesting that whistleblowers must possess first-hand information in order to file an urgent concern complaint with the congressional intelligence committees.
The ICIG’s Center for Protected Disclosures has developed three new forms entitled, ‘Report of Fraud, Waste, and Abuse UNCLASSIFIED Intake Form’; ‘Disclosure of Urgent Concern Form-UNCLASSIFIED’; and ‘External Review Panel (ERP) Request Form – UNCLASSIFIED.’ These three new forms are now available on the ICIG’s open website and are in the process of being added to the ICIG’s classified system. The ICIG will continue to update and clarify its forms and its websites to ensure its guidance to whistleblowers is clear and strictly complies with statutory requirements. Consistent with the law, the new forms do not require whistleblowers to possess first-hand information in order to file a complaint or information with respect to an urgent concern”
While law does not require those who file whistleblower claims to offer first-hand information of an urgent concern, federal regulations laid out in the “Background Information on ICWPA Process” state the ICIG must possess reliable, first-hand information in order to find the whistleblower credible.
Despite the form changes and the requirement for possession of first-hand information, the ICIG statement admits the Ukraine whistleblower filed an outdated report and checked that he or she had first-hand knowledge of the experience, which the complaint itself contradicts.
“The Complainant on the form he or she submitted on August 12, 2019 in fact checked two relevant boxes: The first box stated that, ‘I have personal and/or direct knowledge of events or records involved’; and the second box stated that, ‘Other employees have told me about events or records involved,'” the statement read.