Sunday, July 30 was our nation’s tenth “National Whistleblower Appreciation Day.” For those who may not care so much for whistleblowers these days, including perhaps Joe and Hunter Biden, July 30 also serves as “National Cheesecake Day.”
I like cheesecake and I have nothing against legitimate whistleblowers, but there are so many of them these days that it is becoming a bit difficult to sort them all out.
Whistleblowers long-predate formation of our country, going back many centuries to medieval England, when individuals who snitched on their fellow Brits for working on the Sabbath, were entitled to half the perpetrators’ ill-gotten profits.
Unsurprisingly, it was Benjamin Franklin who, three years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, popularized the notion that the public good should not only encourage, but reward citizens who exposed government wrongdoing. In fact, this very principle was incorporated legislatively by the Second Continental Congress in 1778 and signed by then-President Henry Laurens.
Privateering and price gouging during the Civil War became so widespread that Congress in 1863 passed the False Claims Act, pursuant to which a private citizen could initiate a civil action against government-employee scams, and be entitled to a significant cut of any monies eventually awarded.
It was not, however, until more than a century later that the act of being a recognized “whistleblower” achieved significant public and political notoriety. In 1989 the “Whistleblower Protection Act” was signed into law, providing meaningful protection against retaliation for any federal employee who discloses wrongdoing to the Congress. Ten years later, similar legal protection was extended to employees of intelligence agencies who disclosed “urgent” wrongdoing to the specified congressional committees through the proper channels.
Famously (or infamously, depending on one’s political perspective), it was a self-described whistleblower – Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman – whose claim that then-President Trump engaged in a corrupt phone call with Ukrainian officials, provided the Democrat justification for Trump’s first impeachment in 2019.
While Republican and other supporters of Trump raised serious — and legitimate — concern that the real motive for Vindman ’s disclosure to his superiors and then to the Congress was partisan and political rather than evidence of actual and serious wrongdoing by the president, the now-retired Lt. Col. was deified by the Democrats and much of the media.
Most recently, the now-GOP controlled House Oversight Committee conducted a public hearing late last month during which a pair of IRS whistleblowers alleged that their investigation into Hunter Biden’s legal misdeeds (including those that formed the basis for his aborted plea deal in federal court last week) had been improperly stymied by the Justice Department.
The manner with which one of the IRS agents sought the limelight in his post-testimony media interviews seemed ebullient and exaggerated, neither of which characteristic adds gravitas to such testimony.
While the public testimony by the IRS duo did raise legitimate questions about just how the long-running, and now apparently still-ongoing Hunter Biden investigations have been handled (or mishandled), much greater factual evidence needs to be brought forward to buttress these whistleblowers’ testimony, if in fact the GOP inquisitors are to strengthen their credibility sufficient to bring impeachment charges against Hunter’s Dad – President Joe Biden.
Democrats already have levelled charges that information revealed behind closed doors by the IRS agents either contradicts their public statements or may be inconsistent therewith. It behooves the Republicans to address such concerns sooner rather than later.
In order to bolster those investigations, GOP leaders need also to establish clearly that reasons underlying the Justice Department’s alleged “slow walking” the IRS investigations was nefarious, rather than reflective of the very different jurisdictional priorities and requirements defining how these two federal agencies set and manage prosecutorial decisions.
The strength of the Republican oversight investigation of the Bidens was not aided when, the very same week the IRS whistleblowers testified about Hunter Biden’s serious and questionable escapades, a former Air Force intelligence officer, also claiming whistleblower status, testified before a different House subcommittee that non-human, alien UFO remains were being withheld from the public by Uncle Sam.
Mixing serious evidence of prosecutorial misconduct by the Biden Justice Department with eyeball-rolling testimony that the Defense Department has been hiding UFO materials and extraterrestrial body parts, just is not the best way to enhance the GOP’s investigative credibility.
Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He served as the United States Attorney in Atlanta from 1986 to 1990 and was an official with the CIA in the 1970s. He now practices law in Atlanta, Georgia and serves as head of Liberty Guard.