In his opening statement, ranking member Devin Nunes claimed that Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community’s Inspector General (ICIG), “changed the guidance on the complaint forms to eliminate the requirement for firsthand information” in order to accept the Whistleblower’s original complaint.
Facts First: This is false. The submission form that whistleblowers from the intelligence community filled out was revised in August 2019, the revision did not change the rules on who can submit a whistleblower complaint.
The whistleblower submission form that appears on the national intelligence director website has a revision date of August 2019. The new version has a field for the filer to check one of two boxes stating they either have direct knowledge of the event or “heard about it from others.”
A previous version of the form that whistleblowers submit to alert the ICIG of an “urgent concern” states that in order for the inspector general to determine that the concern is credible “the ICIG must be in possession of reliable, first-hand information.”
This does not mean that the inspector general would reject a complaint if it presented only secondhand knowledge, but that firsthand information would be needed for the complaint to be found credible and passed further up the chain of command. The inspector general has 14 days from when the complaint is submitted to investigate and determine whether the urgent concern is credible. And that’s exactly what happened in the case of this whistleblower.
In a Sept. 30 statement clarifying the confusion spread by Republicans and right-wing websites, Atkinson wrote that the form submitted by the whistleblower on Aug. 12, 2019, was the same one the ICIG has had in place since May 24, 2018. The statement reiterated the fact that having firsthand knowledge of the event has never been required in order to submit a whistleblower complaint.”
You can read CNN’s full fact check on this conspiracy theory here.