Former Carrier of ‘Nuclear Football’: Whistleblower Broke ‘Circle of Trust’

By Patrick Howley
Patrick Howley
Patrick Howley
Patrick Howley is a former freelance contributor.
September 20, 2019 Updated: January 9, 2020

News Analysis

A member of the intelligence community broke the “circle of trust” by filing a complaint with the Intelligence Community Inspector General about a private phone call that President Donald Trump had with a world leader and leaking that information to Congress, according to the White House military aide who carried the “nuclear football” information for former President Bill Clinton.

According to media reports, the intelligence official filed a complaint with the ICIG, alleging that an inappropriate promise was made by Trump.

“I was President Bill Clinton’s Air Force military aide from 1996 to 1999,” Buzz Patterson told The Epoch Times, saying that he lived and worked in the White House while serving as an aide to Clinton.

“When it comes to making or receiving phone calls for the president, I was the screener for calls when the rest of the staff went home,” Patterson said. “A lot of times, it was Russia, occasionally China, sometimes Egypt, or the UK.”

Patterson explained the process by which the president asks the military aide to put him on the line with a foreign leader, “The military aide goes to the State Department, makes sure the military aide is on the line as well, then we talk to whoever the handlers are for the foreign leader.”

“Oftentimes, President Clinton would say, ‘Would you stay on the line and take notes?’ The NSC [National Security Council] and State Department would also do that—we would all listen in when the two principals talk,” Patterson said. “Sometimes he would say to me, ‘Get me on the line with the [foreign leader], and don’t be on the line.’ And we would do that. I sat in on or listened to countless phone calls between President Clinton and foreign leaders.”

With the Trump leak, clearly something went wrong, and it’s the responsibility of a person either at the State Department or the NSC.

“Somebody in Trump’s chain apparently has divulged what I would call highly privileged information—somebody in that loop, probably not the military aide—it was either in the NSC or the State Department,” Patterson said. “That means that circle of trust was broken.”

“I never would have even remotely thought to leak conversation material or content. Somebody out there is trying to sabotage the president and commander in chief. That is not how the process is supposed to work. These are people sworn to protect. … When you start leaking stuff like that, you become an enemy domestically. I understand the hatred for President Trump is huge, but that is 100 percent out of bounds,” Patterson said.

Patterson said that Trump can and should keep the State Department and NSC off his future calls with world leaders.

“Absolutely, that is 100 percent the president’s privilege. He has a much better feel now for the fact he has leakers. Washington is a very complex city. So you have a lot of things acting, and oftentimes opposing; you’ve got to figure out the lay of the land. He’s got leakers, he needs to eliminate them,” Patterson said.

“I think he’s looking for leakers and sets people up to be eliminated.

“There are a lot of Obama holdovers who are still working in the State Department, White House, Pentagon. They’re not happy their team didn’t work. It is really hard to root out civil servants, hard to root out people who are counter-productive. I think Trump has a lot of people still that don’t want him to last, or be successful in 2020. That’s how D.C. works.

“Everybody at the White House, the NSC, was [serving] at the privilege of the president. I always knew I was serving at the privilege of President Clinton.

“Every president has the absolute authority to do whatever it takes in terms of executive communications, to do the best job in the defense of the country. If people are leaking, there had to be a small group of people on the phone calls.

“I guarantee you, there’s a transcript. If the president has other people on the phone call, there’s a transcript. Every single time the president makes a phone call to a foreign leader, the State Department and NSC have a transcript. It’s definitely possible that President Trump picked up the phone and called another guy personally, but there would be no way that would leak, unless it was a phone call that was listened to by other parties—that means the NSC, the military possibly, and the State Department.”

Patterson is running as a Republican in California’s 7th U.S. Congressional District.

Contact Patrick Howley on twitter, @HowleyReporter

Patrick Howley
Patrick Howley
Patrick Howley is a former freelance contributor.