Oct 7, 2019

House Democrats worry Trump allies could leak identity of whistleblower

Adam Schiff. Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee are considering a number of possible measures to protect the identity of the Ukraine whistleblower during their upcoming testimony, fearing possible reprisal from President Trump's allies in Congress, the Washington Post reports.

The big picture: Trump has repeatedly sought to undermine the credibility of the whistleblower whose allegations have helped set off an impeachment inquiry, suggesting on numerous occasions that the whistleblower is sort of a "spy" or partisan actor and claiming that he deserves to "meet" his accuser.

  • The whistleblower's attorney Andrew Bakaj tweeted last month that his client is "entitled to anonymity. Law and policy support this and the individual is not to be retaliated against. Doing so is a violation of federal law."
  • Bakaj also wrote to the chairs of the House and Senate Intelligence committees and the acting director of national intelligence about "serious concerns we have regarding our client's safety."

Details: Democrats on the committee have discussed holding the testimony at a remote location away from Capitol Hill, as well as the possibility of a "staff-only session" without members of Congress, per the Post.

  • Other potential measures reportedly include having the whistleblower testify via a video feed that would obscure their face and voice, sit behind a "screen or partition," or offer an audio-only testimony.

The bottom line: The extreme steps being considered underscore how bitterly divided and partisan the House Intelligence Committee — which has been tasked by Speaker Nancy Pelosi with leading the impeachment inquiry — has become.

Go deeper: Trump demands to meet whistleblower and accuses Adam Schiff of "treason"

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Trump: "We must determine the Whistleblower’s identity"

Photo by Eric Baradat/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump on Monday said in a pair of tweets Monday the whistleblower who filed the complaint that set off the House impeachment inquiry must "testify to explain why he got my Ukraine conversation sooo wrong" and that they must be identified "to determine WHY this was done to the USA."

Adam Schiff now doesn’t seem to want the Whistleblower to testify. NO! Must testify to explain why he got my Ukraine conversation sooo wrong, not even close. Did Schiff tell him to do that? We must determine the Whistleblower’s identity to determine WHY this was done to the USA.
Go deeperArrowOct 14, 2019

Adam Schiff says whistleblower may not testify in Ukraine investigation

Adam Schiff. Photo: Liz Lynch/Getty Images

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said on CBS’ "Face the Nation" on Sunday that the committees investigating President Trump and Ukraine may not need testimony from the whistleblower who filed the complaint that set off the impeachment inquiry.

Why it matters: Schiff said that asking for a testimony could unnecessarily harm the whistleblower by exposing their identity, especially with Trump accusing the official of partisanship and repeatedly calling for them to be unmasked.

Go deeperArrowOct 13, 2019

Republicans scold Schiff for not seeking whistleblower's testimony

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Republican leaders on the House committees investigating President Trump and Ukraine condemned House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff in a letter on Wednesday for failing to call the whistleblower to testify before them, according to a copy of the letter obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The letter marks the first time Republicans have formally demanded the statement of a witness involved in Democrats' impeachment inquiry. But "this particular whistleblower could also face a significant physical risk if his or her identity is exposed," Lawfare notes.

Go deeperArrowOct 23, 2019