Opinion: At Hearing Republicans Sink To New Lows In Trying To Expose Whistleblower
At Tuesday mornings hearing of the House Intelligence Committee, ranking Republican Devin Nunes appeared to attempt to get information that would lead to the exposure of the whistleblower whose complaint touched off the impeachment inquiry.
It was a disturbing moment in a set of hearings that have featured many of them, and it showed just how determined Republicans are to get that persons name out into the public so they can initiate a campaign against them and distract the publics attention from the substance of the impeachment inquiry.
It came during the questioning of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, one of many officials in the Trump administration who was shocked and appalled by President Trumps fateful call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. Unlike others, Vindman was one of those listening in on the call.
Nunes asked Vindman whom he spoke to about the call; Vindman listed a number of officials with a need to know, including George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state in charge of Europe and Eurasia. He also mentioned an individual in the intelligence community, without giving a name.
Identifying the whistleblower and then releasing his or her name publicly has become something of an obsession for Republicans, though their explanations for precisely why they want to do this run from the incoherent to the absurd. And its important to understand why this would be so dangerous.
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Washington The House Intelligence Committee and lawyers for the whistleblower who filed a complaint about President Donald Trump’s conduct are discussing extreme measures to protect the individual’s identity amid growing concerns about his or her safety, according to several sources familiar with the process.
Other Agencies Protect Identities
In both the Securities and Exchange Commission and IRS;whistleblower programs, which can feature multimillion dollar awards, the agencies scrupulously protect whistleblowers identities.
For example, the SEC program permits whistleblowers to submit their information anonymously. Over the 10 years of the program, SEC attorneys have told us many times that targets of the resulting investigations are not informed of;the existence of a whistleblower,;let alone the person’s identity. The IRS provides similar assurances of confidentiality.;
The protections that shield the Ukraine whistleblower from disclosure wisely mirror these corporate whistleblower protections.
The reason for such policies is self-evident. Whistleblowers point people to critical facts being hidden. But they sometimes provide information about misconduct of which they have little or no direct knowledge. The whistleblower may provide a witness directory but not be a witness. In that case, the governments case will generally not depend on the whistleblowers credibility, but on the credibility of witnesses with firsthand knowledge and evidence.
Safeguarding an identity:Trump has no right to confront the whistleblower who triggered an impeachment inquiry
If the opinion of congressional lawyers prevails, we may never know who blew the whistle. And that is exactly how it should be. The whistleblowers service is done. It is up to the witnesses;now.
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Some Gop Senators Buck President Trump Rand Paul On Calls To Release Whistleblower’s Identity
Republicans and Democrats were quick to defend the whistleblower.
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Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill are coming to the defense of the whistleblower at the center of the impeachment inquiry after President Donald Trump and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., called for the individuals identity to be revealed.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, on Monday said in response to Trump’s comments that it was up to the whistleblower to decide whether or not to come forward.
“That’s strictly up to the whistleblower,” Grassley told reporters.
“All I want to do is make sure the law is followed,” Grassley said, when asked by reporters if the president’s comments were appropriate. “A person like me that has advocated for whistleblowers for a long period of time — including this whistleblower — I want maximum protection for whistleblowers.”
Long-standing whistleblower laws protect the identities of government employees who come forward with accusations of wrongdoing within the government. The whistleblower’s lawyers have said that revealing their client’s name could threaten their client’s personal safety and that there have already been death threats made against the individual.
ABC News is not reporting on the whistleblower’s identity. All that is publicly known of the whistleblower is that he or she is a member of the intelligence community.
Republicans were quick to denounce Paul’s charge.
Freedom Of Association Protects The Identities Of Whistleblowers Acting Collectively To Expose Wrongdoing
In addition to the right of whistleblower confidentiality enshrined in the Inspector General Act,;the First Amendment right of association is a compelling justification to bar outing a whistleblower or compelling a whistleblower to out other whistleblowers.
About three decades ago, the Government Accountability Project , a non-partisan organization that defends whistleblowers, received a subpoena from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission concerning GAPs representation of whistleblowers disclosing safety concerns about the South Texas Project, a nuclear plant nearing completion southwest of Houston. ;GAP provided information about their clients safety concerns but omitted the informants names and other identifying information on the basis that compelled disclosure of their identities would undermine GAPs ability to assist whistleblowers in presenting safety concerns to the NRC and the public.
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Republicans Echo Trump In Suggesting Whistleblower Complaint Is Politically Motivated
Republicans responded with a collective shrug to explosive news that an intelligence official had lodged a complaint with the inspector general about President Trumps communications with a foreign leader, the latest example of GOP lawmakers falling in line.
Rank-and-file Republicans on Friday repeatedly dodged questions about a whistleblower allegation that a promise Trump made to a foreign leader jeopardized national security. Some even went so far as to dismiss the complaint as politically motivated even though they hadnt seen the full details of the allegation.
Its not like we havent seen this movie before: Democrats come out, theyre all spun up, Adam Schiff makes all kinds of statements, and then when the facts come out, whoa, different story! said Trump-ally Rep. Jim Jordan , the top Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee. He compared the latest allegations to claims that Trump worked with Russia to win in 2016. This seems to be the same kind of deal.
The GOPs nonchalance even extended to the decision by acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire not to share the complaint with Congress, though the law says explicitly that national security matters deemed urgent should be shared with intelligence committees on Capitol Hill.
A few Republicans did express concerns as details emerged, but they were reluctant to criticize the president or even suggest Trump had done anything wrong.
Will The Whistleblower Testify
Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, who chairs the U.S. House of Representatives intelligence committee, has said it is likely the whistleblower wont testify in person, citing security concerns.
However, on Sunday, Zaid said his client would answer questions directly from Republican members in writing, under oath and penalty of perjury in a bid to stem escalating efforts to reveal the persons identity.
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In a tweet, Zaid said being a whistleblower is not a partisan job, nor is impeachment an objective.
That is not our role, he wrote, adding that Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, a ranking member of the House intelligence committee, had been notified of the offer.
Lebo, though, says he doesnt think it is necessary for the whistleblower to come forward and testify.
Pretty much all the aspects of the story that the whistleblower first brought to our attention have gone in front of congressional committees and have been corroborated by witnesses, he said.
With files from the Associated Press
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Gop Senator On Whistleblower Complaint: ‘there’s Obviously Lots That’s Very Troubling There’
Donald TrumpFormer Sen. Heller to run for Nevada governorOvernight Defense & National Security Milley becomes lightning rodJoint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on rightMORE and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky contained lots thats very troubling, warning his GOP colleagues not to dismiss it.
Republicans ought not to be rushing to circle the wagons to say theres no there there when theres obviously lots thats very troubling there, Sasse said after reviewing the complaint, according to an NBC News reporter. The administration ought not be attacking the whistleblower as some talking points suggest they plan to do.
However, Sasse also castigated the media and House Democrats, who have announced an impeachment inquiry based on the whistleblower complaint, saying, Democrats ought not to be using the word impeach before they have the whistleblower complaint or before they read any of the transcript.
SASSE also says The administration ought not be attacking the whistleblower as some talking points suggest they plan to do.Heres more of s full Response:
Frank Thorp V
The media humbly should not pretend that this story is about something thats going to be resolved in the next two hours, he added. Done right with lots of deliberation, this is going to take a lot of time, but theres obviously some really troubling things here.
They’re Already Running The All
More than two and a half years into the Trump presidency, Republicans have a tried and true strategy when it comes to dealing with whistleblowers or any other witnesses who threaten to expose the president and his administration’s corrupt or unethical behavior. Following the president’s lead, they do everything in their power to discredit the individual and destroy his or her reputation, questioning the subject’s honesty and integrity, portraying her as a politically-motivated opportunist, and digging up whatever kind of dirt they can true or not to sully the person’s name. After tarring and feathering the witness or whistleblower in question, they move on to the press and the journalists who reported the story, fulminating against the “fake news” media and the dishonest reporters who would do anything to bring down the president. Finally, if things really look bad, they point to a vast “deep state” conspiracy to undermine and ruin President Trump, who has spent the past three years fighting off baseless smears and treacherous attacks from people within his own government.
The whistleblower report has now been provided to the congressional intelligence committees and, according to Schiff, the whistleblower has asked to testify and could do so as early as this week. One can only hope that he or she is prepared for the mudslinging vitriol and intimidation tactics that Republicans are getting ready to deploy.
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Trump Impeachment Inquiry: Three Republican Claims Fact
President Trump and his Republican supporters are fighting hard to control the narrative of the ongoing impeachment hearings, hitting back with their own allegations against Democrats and the whistleblower at the origin of the affair.
They’re also questioning the actions of Ukrainian politicians, as well as pushing for greater scrutiny of allegations that Joe Biden and his son Hunter were up to no good in Ukraine.
Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the committee holding the impeachment hearings, made three specific claims in his opening statement on Tuesday.
So what are these allegations and how valid are they?
Why Are Republicans Hell
By David Morgan,
6 Min Read
WASHINGTON – An aggressive push by President Donald Trumps Republican allies to unmask an anonymous whistleblower who ignited the impeachment inquiry could help shore up voter support for Trump, as Congress enters a critical new phase of televised hearings, party officials and strategists say.
The whistleblower, a U.S. intelligence official who complained about Trumps July 25 telephone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has in recent days increasingly become a target of noisy attacks by Trump, his allies in Congress and the conservative media, all of whom have pushed for the whistleblower to be named.
Trump has suggested the whistleblower committed treason.
Lawyers for the whistleblower have refused to disclose their clients identity and have expressed fears for the persons safety. They say Trump is violating federal laws.
Let me be clear: should any harm befall any suspected named whistleblower or their family, the blame will rest squarely with your client, whistleblower lawyer Andrew Bakaj said in a Nov. 7 cease-and-desist letter to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone.
Democratic lawmakers say they no longer need to hear from the whistleblower to make their case that Trump abused his office for personal political gain. The president has denied any wrongdoing and accused his opponents of a witch hunt.
It fits in the larger narrative that this has been a partisan effort from the beginning, the official said.
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Key Takeaway #: The Partisan Fight Over Whistleblowing That Took Place In And Around The Impeachment Of President Trump Has Not Caused A Partisan Split On Whistleblower Protection For Federal Employeesregardless Of Party Voters Overwhelmingly Agree That Federal Employees Who Blow The Whistle On Government Misconduct Should Have Stronger Legal Protections Against Retaliation
In this question, respondents were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with this statement: There should be stronger legal protections from harm for whistleblowers who are federal employees who report fraud in government programs.
In every region of the United States, voters support federal employee whistleblower protections. The survey shows that whistleblower protection has a bipartisan, multi-faceted coalition of supporters who believe that civil servants who risk their careers to report fraud and other misconduct should be protected.
House Republicans Want To Subpoena The Whistleblower
According to The Hill, it looks like we need to prepare for a Category 5 idiot wind howling in from the House Republicans.
Republicans intend to subpoena the government whistleblower to testify in the Houses impeachment investigation into President Trumps dealings with Ukraine, according to Rep. Jim Jordan .
The effort is not likely to bear fruit, as Democrats have rejected the idea of outing the anonymous figure, citing safety concerns, and they have veto power over any GOP subpoena requests for witness testimony.
But Trump and his Republican allies in the Capitol have made the whistleblower a central part of their defense, casting doubts about the figures political motivations, even as they readily acknowledge they dont know the persons identity.
Donald Trump Jr. has already named the person the Republicans suspect of being the original whistleblower and RealClearPolitics published an article explaining their suspicions. House Republican staffers have used his name in private depositions in an effort to get his or her name in the public record. And I suppose this is the person they would have to subpoena since I dont think you can subpoena someone unless you can name them.
That the American public has to be subjected to this crime against reason could form its own article of impeachment.
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Gop Senators Attack Whistleblower’s Credibility
Republican senators scrambling to protect President Trump
GOP lawmakers are asserting the whistleblower did not have firsthand knowledge of the actions detailed in the complaint and question whether the person had a political agenda.
It doesnt come from a person with personal knowledge. Its like I heard these people say this, and now Im reporting it. I think that is pretty bizarre, said Sen. John CornynJohn Cornyn‘New normal’: GOP signals big headaches for Biden after midtermsEmbassy says US can’t guarantee safe passage to Kabul airportDemocrats take first step toward .5T spending planMORE .
Secondly, after a certain point, it doesnt just allege facts, it really is kind of a dossier or political diatribe, so I think there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical. Having said that, we are in the process of talking to the director of national intelligence and the inspector general.
Chuck GrassleyLobbying worldRural community foundations support the ACE Act you should tooCotton to stump for Iowa GOP candidate amid 2024 speculationMORE , who has had a reputation for protecting whistleblowers, said the one at the center of the Trump impeachment inquiry didnt necessarily deserve protections.
If they are not really a whistleblower, they dont get the protection, he said.
I think the whistleblower did the right thing, Maguire told the House Intelligence Committee.
I want to know who was the person that went to the whistleblower, he said.
The Washington Post: Schiffs Claim That The Whistleblower Has A Statutory Right To Anonymity
Note: this article, featuring our National Security Analyst Irvin McCullough, was originally published here.
Schiffs Claim That The Whistleblower Has a Statutory Right to Anonymity
I am concerned about a bad-faith effort to out a whistleblower who has a statutory right to remain anonymous.
Rep. Adam B. Schiff ,;in a closed-door deposition of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, Oct. 29, 2019
The whistleblower has a right to anonymity. There are public reports that the life of the whistleblower has been threatened. We do not want this committee used, or this testimony used, to try to exact political retribution against the whistleblower.
The whistleblower has the right, a statutory right, to anonymity. These proceedings will not be used to out the whistleblower.
Schiff, in a public hearing with Vindman, Nov. 19, 2019
Does the whistleblower who filed a complaint about President Trump have a statutory right to remain anonymous, as Schiff claims?
Its not a right spelled out in any statute. But national security experts warn that disclosing the whistleblowers identity could expose him to danger and retribution, and chill whistleblowing in general.
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