In the early days of the Trump presidency, the CIA analyst whose name has been linked as the “anonymous” whistleblower who touched off the impeachment inquiry was heard discussing how to remove the president from office, a report said.
In a Jan. 22 report for RealClearInvestigations, Paul Sperry cited former colleagues of Eric Ciaramella as saying they heard him speaking to colleague Sean Misko about removing the duly elected president from office. Ciaramella and Misko were holdovers from the Obama administration.
“Just days after he (Trump) was sworn in they were already talking about trying to get rid of him,” Sperry quoted a former White House official who overheard the Ciaramella-Misko conversation on White House property.
“They weren’t just bent on subverting his agenda,” the former official added. “They were plotting to actually have him removed from office.”
Sources told RealClearInvestigations that Ciaramella and Misko expressed anger over President Donald Trump’s “America First” foreign policy, which piece-by-piece dismantled President Barack Obama’s policies.
Two National Security Council (NSC) co-workers told Sperry that they overheard Ciaramella and Misko making anti-Trump remarks to each other while attending a staff-wide NSC meeting called by then-national security adviser Michael Flynn, where they sat together in the south auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, part of the White House complex.
The “all hands” meeting, held about two weeks into the new administration, was attended by hundreds of NSC employees.
“They were popping off about how they were going to remove Trump from office. No joke,” said one ex-colleague, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
According to Sperry’s report, a military staffer detailed to the NSC, who was seated directly in front of Ciaramella and Misko during the meeting, confirmed hearing them talk about toppling Trump during a conversation which the source said lasted about one minute. The crowd was preparing to get up to leave the room at the time, the source said.
“After Flynn briefed [the staff] about what ‘America First’ foreign policy means, Ciaramella turned to Misko and commented, ‘We need to take him out,’ ” the staffer recalled. “And Misko replied, ‘Yeah, we need to do everything we can to take out the president.’ ”
The military detailee, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Sperry: “By ‘taking him out,’ they meant removing him from office by any means necessary. They were triggered by Trump’s and Flynn’s vision for the world. This was the first ‘all hands’ [staff meeting] where they got to see Trump’s national security team, and they were huffing and puffing throughout the briefing any time Flynn said something they didn’t like about ‘America First.’ ”
The source told Sperry he also overheard Ciaramella telling Misko, referring to Trump, “We can’t let him enact this foreign policy.”
The sources told Sperry that it was Trump’s July 2019 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that provided the pretext Ciaramella, Misko and their Democratic allies had long been looking for.
“They didn’t like his policies,” a former White House official told Sperry. “They had a political vendetta against him from Day One.”
Misko left the White House last summer to join House impeachment manager Adam Schiff’s committee, where sources say he offered “guidance” to the whistleblower, who has been officially identified only as an intelligence officer in a complaint against Trump filed under whistleblower laws. Misko then helped run the impeachment inquiry based on that complaint as a top investigator for congressional Democrats.
Sperry noted that “The coordination between the official believed to be the whistleblower and a key Democratic staffer undercuts the narrative that impeachment developed spontaneously out of the ‘patriotism’ of an ‘apolitical civil servant.’ ”