Our democracy is in real danger. This is not a drill.

I know that I cannot change the mind of folks who are solid supporters of President Trump, but I want to talk to the Republicans who are feeling lost right now.  Maybe you voted for Trump because you wanted someone to shake up the completely ineffective status quo in our government.  Maybe you are a lifelong Republican who just can’t vote for a Democrat.  Maybe you really hate the idea of politics and you just try to avoid it altogether.

I need YOU, specifically, to pay attention to this whistleblower story. This is not fake news.  This is not a leftist attack on the President. 

It is really hard to know where to step into this story as someone who wants to focus on facts and balance.  The allegations that are likely to arise from the story (based on solid reporting that has been sourced from multiple places) are so egregious that an NBC reporter, Ken Dilanian, said that we “need to find different words for unprecedented”, and it’s hard to argue with that.  But right now, we can’t say with absolute certainty what the whistleblower has alleged.  Here’s what we DO know:

  1. A US intelligence official reported an incident to the Inspector General for the intelligence community in early August.

  2. The Inspector General found the report to be urgent and credible, which is a legal classification with specific and high standards.

  3. An “urgent and credible” whistleblower report in the intelligence community must – AS DEFINED BY US LAW – be relayed to Congress, specifically the House Intelligence Committee.

  4. The Inspector General, before following that law, checked with the Justice Department – and was told NOT to relay the report to the Congressional oversight committees.  This is, it cannot be stated clearly enough, AGAINST THE LAW.

The existence of a whistleblower process, with an inspector general who has a specific set of guidelines on what must be provided for Congressional oversight, exists specifically to handle situations in which the very highest levels of our Executive branch commit egregious offences that violate national or international law.  The Executive branch does not have the authority to exert privilege over the report.  If they did, that would make this an authoritarian government run by a dictator. 

I cannot state this strongly enough – there have been MANY violations by this administration that jeopardize our democracy, but this may be the very worst.  The part of this story that we don’t know with certainty yet – what was the complaint about – is likely to obscure the plain facts that we DO know.  The Executive Branch broke the law – and has plainly admitted to doing so by asserting privilege that does not exist – simply by telling the Inspector General to withhold the complaint from Congress. 

Please.  PLEASE.  Keep paying attention to these violations.  I’m not being dramatic when I say that our democracy is in real danger. 

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