Trump suggested the whistleblower who filed a complaint against him is guilty of treason, which is punishable by death

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks on supporting the passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade deal during a visit to Derco Aerospace Inc., a Lockheed Martin subsidiary, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S., July 12, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria?

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U.S. President Trump.

  • President Donald Trump suggested on Thursday that a whistleblower who filed a complaint against him is "almost a spy" who may have committed treason, The Los Angeles Times reported.
  • The punishment for treason is the death penalty.
  • The complaint centers around a phone call Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which Trump pressured Zelensky to work with Rudy Giuliani and Attorney General William Barr to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and discredit the Russia probe.
  • "Basically, that person never saw the report, never saw the call, he never saw the call - heard something and decided that he or she or whoever the hell they saw - they're almost a spy," Trump said.
  • "You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now," the president added.
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President Donald Trump suggested on Thursday that a whistleblower who filed a complaint against him is a "spy" who may have committed treason, The Los Angeles Times reported.

The punishment for treason is the death penalty.Advertisement

"Basically, that person never saw the report, never saw the call, he never saw the call - heard something and decided that he or she or whoever the hell they saw - they're almost a spy," Trump said at a private breakfast in New York, according to the report. "I want to know who's the person, who's the person who gave the whistleblower the information? Because that's close to a spy."

He added: "You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now."

The complaint centers around a July 25 phone call Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump repeatedly pressured Zelensky to work with Rudy Giuliani and Attorney General William Barr to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and discredit the Russia probe.
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Trump had ordered the US to withhold a nearly $400 million military-aid package to Ukraine days before the phone call. Notes of the call show the US president made no direct mention of offering aid in exchange for Zelensky's assistance in probing Biden, but he brought up how the US does "a lot for Ukraine" right before asking Zelensky to do him a "favor" and investigate Biden and the origins of the Russia probe.

The whistleblower was not a direct witness to the conduct described in the complaint or Trump's conversation with Zelensky. Instead, they said they learned of it from "multiple White House officials with direct knowledge of the call."The still-unnamed whistleblower said they heard various facts related to it from more than half a dozen US officials. Multiple officials "recounted fact patterns that were consistent with one another," the complaint said.Advertisement

The complaint also said White House officials who informed the whistleblower of Trump's call were "deeply disturbed" by what they had heard. They also told the whistleblower that White House lawyers were already discussing how to handle the call because they believed they'd witnessed "the President abuse his office for personal gain."

Trump and his allies have repeatedly alleged that the whistleblower learned details about the call because someone within the intelligence community leaked them.

But acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire said while testifying to the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday that the whistleblower likely got their information from Trump's own staff.Advertisement

Maguire also said the complaint is "in alignment" with a memo of the phone call that the White House released on Wednesday.

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