His first step was to approach an official in the office of the CIA general counsel to raise concerns about the Trump call, according to people familiar with the whistleblower’s actions.
Days later, the analyst learned that the CIA’s top lawyer, Courtney Simmons Elwood, had notified the White House and became concerned that the matter would be stifled. He then sought out an official on the House Intelligence Committee, conveying his concern only in the broadest terms before the official urged him to say no more and consult a lawyer.
The analyst next turned to a friend who is an attorney and an expert on national security law. The two chatted briefly at a coffee shop before the lawyer, recognizing the magnitude of the matter, also stopped the analyst before any details were broached.
The friend referred the analyst to another attorney, Andrew Bakaj, who had more expertise on whistleblower procedure and law. After parting ways, the friend pulled out his iPhone and deleted a calendar item he had created for their meeting that included the whistleblower’s name.
The analyst had served on the National Security Council during the Trump administration and had been in the presence of the president. After returning to the CIA, his job required him to continue to participate in National Security Council meetings.