Politics GOP argues whistleblower's name must be public
Democrats say whistleblower’s testimony unnecessary as other witnesses come forward
Trump and Republicans have demanded that the individual who triggered the impeachment probe be unmasked.
As the evidence mounts of a quid pro quo in President Trump's dealings with Ukraine, the president's allies in Congress are increasingly hopeful they'll find exoneration in a singular figure: the government whistleblower they're fighting to expose.
The clash over the whistleblower's identity - and that person's right to anonymity - has emerged as a frontline battle in the partisan war over the Trump impeachment inquiry.
Republicans on Capitol Hill contend that knowing the whistleblower's identity is vital to the process, granting Trump the right to face his accuser - and learn of any political biases the figure might have. They are effectively waging a whisper campaign about the identity of the anonymous figure who filed the complaint triggering the inquiry launched just six weeks ago.
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A top aide to Rep. Devin Nunes has been providing conservative politicians and journalists with information—and misinformation—about the anonymous whistleblower who triggered the biggest crisis of Donald Trump’s presidency, two knowledgeable sources tell The Daily Beast. © Provided by The Daily Beast Photo Illustration by Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast / Photos Getty Derek Harvey, who works for Nunes, the ranking Republican on the House intelligence committee, has provided notes for House Republicans identifying the whistleblower’s name ahead of the high-profile depositions of Trump administration appointees and civil servants in th
Democrats counter that the GOP efforts to out the whistleblower violate federal law and are a dangerous game that could jeopardize the safety of the individual.
"The president's allies would like nothing better than to help the president out this whistleblower. Our committee will not be a part of that," Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said earlier in the week. "They have the right to remain anonymous. They certainly should not be subject to these kinds of vicious attacks."
Democrats and the whistleblower's attorney also note that other witnesses testifying in the investigation have confirmed allegations in the person's initial complaint. Some have even offered new information that goes well beyond the whistleblower's initial claims.
Trump Allies Ramp Up Efforts to Unmask Whistleblower
Some Republican lawmakers want to out the whistleblower whose complaint set off the impeachment probe and are amplifying conservative media articles that assert theories about his suspected identity.In recent days, several conservative publications have named a person they speculate is the whistleblower. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and a handful of other Republican lawmakers have shared links on Twitter to those articles.
The foreign service officials who have testified privately in support of the whistleblower's charges have eroded GOP arguments that the initial account is unreliable because it was learned secondhand, say Democrats, who contend the whistleblower's testimony is now superfluous to their investigation.
"Because we have corroborated everything the whistleblower has alleged, having the whistleblower testify would put the whistleblower's life in serious jeopardy," Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), a member of the Intelligence Committee, told CNN this week. "And so the question is, ... is that person's life worth less than being redundant? And our position right now is that it's not."
Trump, for his part, has said he's trying to uncover the whistleblower's identity, characterizing the figure as a "spy" with treasonous intent. And Republicans in Congress have eagerly joined the effort.
Senate Republicans divided over whether whistleblower should testify
Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee are divided over whether they need to hear from the whistleblower at the center of the House impeachment inquiry.While the House Intelligence Committee has been leading high-profile, near-daily depositions with former and current administration officials, the Senate panel is quietly investigating the whistleblower process and how the complaint was handled.But the GOP senators on theWhile the House Intelligence Committee has been leading high-profile, near-daily depositions with former and current administration officials, the Senate panel is quietly investigating the whistleblower process and how the complaint was handled.
In closed-door depositions, private hallway conversations, public hearings and in tweets, the president's GOP allies have targeted a specific individual - even as they readily concede they don't know if that figure is the whistleblower.
"Only Adam Schiff really knows who the whistleblower is," said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the former Freedom Caucus chairman and a close Trump ally.
The whistleblower debate is likely to escalate in the coming weeks, when the process will shift from closed-door depositions to wide-open hearings.
The Hill is not naming the individual being targeted by Republicans. It is also typically the policy of The Associated Press and other major news outlets not to reveal the identity of whistleblowers, who enjoy federal protections against retribution.
The whistleblower's attorneys, Andrew Bakaj and Mark Zaid, said in a statement they would "neither confirm nor deny" the identity of their client.
Both federal whistleblower laws and the Privacy Act of 1974 protect the individual's anonymity within the executive branch, Zaid said.
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However, nothing legallymembers of Congress, or the president himself, from revealing a whistleblower's identity unless the individual is a covert agent.
That means it is possible lawmakers could choose to make the whistleblower's name public, if they choose to do so.
"The whistleblower statute never required for anonymity," said Meadows, who has been attending the closed-door impeachment depositions.
Meadows, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and other top Trump allies have stated that there is only one member of Congress who knows the identity of the whistleblower: Schiff, one of three Democratic chairmen leading the impeachment inquiry into Trump. That's because the whistleblower, after contacting the CIA's legal counsel, had voiced his concerns to a member of Schiff's staff on the Intelligence panel. Both contacts were made before the whistleblower filed his official complaint on Aug. 12.
GOP lawmakers have been asking questions in the closed-door impeachment depositions that have been interpreted by Democrats as trying to unmask the whistleblower, a development first reported byand confirmed by The Hill.
The whistleblower's attorneys, Bakaj and Zaid, have blasted members of Congress and the media who are trying to reveal the individual,of someone suspected of being the whistleblower could result in "great physical danger" for that person and his or her family.
The attorneys pointed to recent comments by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman and founder of the Senate Whistleblower Caucus, who said whistleblowers "ought to be heard out and protected."
"It is beyond the pale of irresponsibility for a Member of Congress to vindictively and with partisan intent further promote conspiracy theories that could, especially in this day and age, lead to the physical harm of any individual," Zaid said in an email to The Hill.
Nunes Once Praised Anonymous Whistleblowers. Now He Wants Trump’s Exposed. .
As the impeachment inquiry moves out from closed doors and into public view, Republicans have confirmed what they’ve been hinting at for weeks: that their campaign to undermine Democrats’ case to impeach President Trump will center on outing and interrogating the anonymous whistleblower whose account launched the inquiry in the first place. On Thursday, House Democrats formally extended to their GOP counterparts the chance to request witnesses for the open hearings that will take place in the month of November. Rep.
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