This article, featuring our National Security Analyst Irvin McCullough, was originally published here.

Whistleblower Allegations Surfaced Just Before DNI Pick John Ratcliffe Withdrew

Trump blamed the media for his nominee’s withdrawal, but it may have to do with his proximity to a company accused of being instrumental in reprisal against a whistleblower.

An email disclosing Rep. John Ratcliffe’s (R-TX) alleged involvement in a controversial whistleblowing case reached the White House prior to the announcement Friday that he was withdrawing his name from consideration for Director of National Intelligence, according to two sources with knowledge of the correspondence.

The email, originally sent to the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, laid out how Ratcliffe promoted a company accused of being instrumental in the reprisal against a whistleblower and their cybersecurity efforts, according to one of those sources. The Government Accountability Project, an organization that protects whistleblowers, is helping represent the unnamed government employee. Details about the case are being closely held in part because of security reasons.

The organization sent information on its client’s disclosure to the committee Wednesday morning. The email then circulated among Republicans in Washington, including some White House officials, who did not think Ratcliffe was up to the job of DNI, according to two sources with direct knowledge.

White House spokespeople did not provide comment for this story. Ratcliffe did not respond to a request for comment.

Ratcliffe’s third-largest campaign donor in the 2019-2020 cycle, according to Open Secrets, a non-profit that tracks the intersection of money in politics, is a company that forced the shutdown of a critical government cybersecurity office. That’s according to an individual familiar with the whistleblower’s disclosure. Ratcliffe hosted the company in front of the House Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, the source said.

“While I am concerned that there was never a complete review of the facts of this case as it related to Mr. Ratcliffe … I’m thankful the committee took this matter seriously,” said Irvin McCullough, a national security analyst at the Government Accountability Project. “This engagement exemplifies the need for policymakers to continue championing their work with courageous whistleblowers willing to speak truth to power.”

News of the email comes as President Donald Trump considers multiple individuals for the position of DNI. Since Trump announced the nomination of Ratcliffe last week, U.S. media organizations have published multiple reports of holes in the congressman’s biography and his exaggeration of the work he did as a former U.S. Attorney in Texas. Three sources with knowledge of the government’s vetting process said Trump administration officials raised concerns about Ratcliffe’s past over the last week. It’s unclear whether the whistleblower disclosure email impacted Ratcliffe’s nomination, or if the president himself was aware of the email.