Trump complains whistleblower's sources are like 'spies' and would have been dealt with 'differently' in the 'old days'

Donald Trump.
(Image credit: Evan Vucci/AP)

President Trump reportedly stunned attendees of a private breakfast Thursday by railing against the U.S. officials who provided information to a whistleblower, suggesting they should be harshly punished for treason.

Trump, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times report, spoke Thursday to staff of the United States Mission to the United Nations and ranted about the sources who spoke with the anonymous whistleblower, saying, "I want to know who's the person who gave the whistleblower the information because that's close to a spy."

Trump reportedly then said, "You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart with spies and treason, right? We used to handle it a little differently than we do now."

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The president's remarks, the newspapers report, stunned people in the audience. They came following the release of the declassified complaint alleging Trump abused his power by pushing for Ukraine's president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and that White House officials then moved to restrict access to the call's transcript. Although the whistleblower did not have firsthand knowledge, the complaint says it is based on the account of more than half a dozen U.S. officials.

At this same event, Trump reportedly referred to reporters as "animals" and "scum" while saying that although "I didn't do anything," "I don't know if I’m the most innocent person in the world."

During his testimony Thursday, acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire defended the whistleblower, saying they "acted in good faith throughout" the process and "did the right thing."

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.