Trump caught on audio suggesting death penalty for whistleblower at private meeting: report

Trump spoke at a private event at the Intercontinental Hotel in New York today at the same time that acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire was testifying before Congress.

A person attending the event provided the Los Angeles Times with a taped recording of the president’s remarks. In that recording, Trump likens the whistleblower to a spy and suggests that he should be given the death penalty.

“I want to know who’s the person, who’s the person who gave the whistle-blower the information? Because that’s close to a spy,” Trump said. “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”

The Times did not release the audio, but it was transcribed and verified.

Trump must have thought the private meeting was free of any press, because he started talking like only friends of his in the room were present. He also referred to the press as "scum" while raging about impending impeachment proceedings that are being furthered along because of the whistleblower complaint.

“You know, these animals in the press,” Trump said. “They’re animals, some of the worst human beings you’ll ever meet.”

Someone in the room shouted out “Fake news!” which prompted Trump to talk even more.

“They’re scum,” Trump continued. “Many of them are scum, and then you have some good reporters, but not many of them, I’ll be honest with you.”

“And then you have Sleepy Joe Biden who’s dumb as a rock,” Trump went on. “This guy was dumb on his best day and he’s not having his best day right now. He’s dumb as a rock. So you have Sleepy Joe and his kid, who’s got a lot of problems, he got thrown out of the Navy — look, I’m not going to, it’s a problem ... so we won’t get into why. He got thrown out of the Navy and now this kid goes into Ukraine, walks away with millions of dollars, he becomes a consultant for $50,000 a month and he doesn’t know anything compared to anybody at this firm. He’s a stiff. He knows nothing. He’s walking away with $50,000.”

Trump maintains he did nothing wrong even as reports leaked out today that the White House tried to "lock down" the contents of the call before the whistleblower came forward.

“They’re talking about me and I didn’t do anything,” he said, hedging slightly. “I don’t know if I’m the most innocent person in the world.”

Director Maguire testified that the whistleblower "did the right thing" and followed the law "every step of the way."