- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 12, 2019

A new complaint from within the U.S. intelligence community alleges the whistleblower who launched the impeachment effort against President Trump is violating federal law by soliciting donations — $227,000 and counting, with some coming in anonymously — on a GoFundMe page.

As of Tuesday, more than 6,000 individual donors had already contributed to the whistleblower’s GoFundMe page.

The complaint to the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) charges that the anonymous whistleblower’s fundraising site breaks laws against intelligence officials soliciting “gifts.”

The GoFundMe page also potentially collects the donations from prohibited sources, according to the complaint, which asks the ICIG to investigate whether any “foreign citizen or agent of a foreign government” contributed.

“The most concerning allegation that my client believes is that the federal employee you are protecting and their attorneys apparently have strategically weaponized their alleged whistleblowing activities into a very lucrative money-making enterprise,” according to the complaint.

The law firm Tully Rinckey filed the complaint on behalf of an anonymous intelligence official who also sought whistleblower protection.

The complaint, which was filed last week, was first reported by Fox News.

The whistleblower who set off the impeachment effort is believed to be a CIA analyst who was assigned to the White House. The whistleblower accused Mr. Trump of abusing Oval Office power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate allegations of corruption involving political rival Joseph R. Biden and his son Hunter.

The GoFundMe account was created the day after the whistleblower’s allegations were made public in late September. A group called Whistleblower Aid set up the account and the whistleblower’s attorneys promoted it online.

“Please help support the Intelligence Community Whistleblower raise funds … this is a tax-deductible contribution. My sincerest thank you for your support,” tweeted Andrew P. Bakaj, a lawyer for the whistleblower.

Whistleblower Aid described the site as a means to support the lawyers of “a U.S. intelligence officer.”

The site included a notice that only donations from U.S. citizens will be accepted, but many of the donations were made anonymously.

Mr. Bakaj defended the fundraising effort.

“Any fundraising efforts for the Intelligence Community Whistleblower have complied with federal laws, including ethics requirements. Should any governmental agency properly inquire we would, of course, cooperate,” he said in a statement to The Washington Times.

The GoFundMe page raises a host of difficult questions inside U.S. intelligence agencies, which strongly advise anyone working there to never engage in this type of fundraising, according to a source who worked at high levels of U.S. clandestine intelligence and maintains close ties with the community.

“The problem with GoFundMe is the money could be coming from unknown sources and that’s very bad,” said the official, adding that the money could be coming from foreign intelligence sources including those tied to adversaries such as Russia.

“There’s no free cheese in the mousetrap as the Russians like to say,” the source said.

• Gabriella Muñoz can be reached at gmunoz@washingtontimes.com.

• Guy Taylor can be reached at gtaylor@washingtontimes.com.

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