The impeachment inquiry into President Trump is based in part on a directive then-President Obama signed during the 2012 campaign when Mitt Romney, who differed in foreign policy, was leading several polls.
Presidential Policy Directive 19, which was signed on Oct. 10, 2012, expanded whistleblower protection to “intelligence community” employees – but notably not contractors – by allowing them to retain their security clearances among other things.
PPD19 came into the spotlight in 2013 because analysts pointed out that it didn’t provide protection to Edward Snowden partly because he was a government contractor.
According to an Aug. 12, 2013 article by the Washington Post:
There are thousands upon thousands of federal contractors who have security clearances but relatively little protection if they disclose waste, fraud or abuse in government programs.
Retaliation by supervisors against whistleblowers is real in Uncle Sam’s operations, as Obama’s policy directive indicates.
But that directive covers only “any employee serving in an Intelligence Community Element.” The operative word here is “employee.”
Excluding contractors “is a remarkable and obviously intentional oversight, given the significant number of contractors who now work within the intelligence community,” according to Washington lawyer Mark Said.
A journalist recently suggested that PPD19 could have been exploited by a “stay behind” network of intelligence employees loyal to Obama in case Romney was elected and made significant changes to foreign policy.
“The Obama administration would not have been too worried about Romney reversing its social policies, but Romney had run sharply against Obama on national security,” wrote Daniel Greenfield. “And Obama’s cronies knew that there would be significant foreign policy differences there.”
“PPD19 may have been their answer.”
An op/ed in the Washington Post recently claimed President Trump was wrong about the recent whistleblower rules being changed because policy “has been virtually unchanged since 2014,” but interestingly the 2014 policy implemented PPD19.
In other words, according to Greenfield, PPD19 could be weaponized against not just Trump in particular, but any president who threatened the DC status quo on foreign issues, including the theoretical President Romney.
Romney was leading national polls in early Oct. 2012, roughly a month before the presidential election.