President Donald Trump, in his first official remarks at the United Nations, said Monday that the United Nations must take steps to “protect whistleblowers.”
The President’s call for protecting UN officials who speak up about internal wrongdoing came as he spoke about what he sees as the international body’s failures and the needed reforms that could “make the United Nations great.”
“We seek a United Nations that regains the trust of the people around the world. In order to achieve this, the United Nations must hold every level of management accountable, protect whistleblowers and focus on results rather than on process,” Trump said during remarks at a UN meeting.
Trump’s call for strengthening UN whistleblower protections came despite his frequent heavy-handed criticism of the leaks that have beset his administration. Trump has repeatedly denigrated anonymous officials who have released damaging or embarrassing information about the President and his administration. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in August that the Justice Department is pursuing triple the number of leak investigations that existed at the end of the Obama administration.
But Trump has also signed legislation to strengthen whistleblower protections — at least at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
In June, Trump signed the Veterans Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act into law, declaring that the bill “protects whistleblowers who do the right thing.”
“We want to reward, cherish and promote the many dedicated employees at the VA,” Trump said at the bill’s signing ceremony.
Whistleblower protections typically only apply to those who report wrongdoing internally — like through an agency’s inspector general — but not to those who leak information to the media.
It’s those “leakers” that Trump has repeatedly lambasted, including by calling into question the veracity of anonymously-sourced news reports and calling leakers criminals — even when the leaks are not damaging to US national security.