Nov 6, 2019

The GOP's war over naming the Ukraine whistleblower

Photo: Bryan Woolston/Getty Images

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) continued his controversial threats to name the Ukraine whistleblower on Tuesday, telling Fox News' Bret Baier that he "probably will" do so — days after calling on the media to print his name at a rally alongside President Trump.

The state of play: Paul's comments ignited a split within the Republican Party. Some Senate Republicans rebuked his comments, while some Trump allies — including the president's own son, Donald Trump Jr. — have publicly stated the whistleblower's alleged identity, which has been promoted among right-wing media.

  • The whistleblower's lawyers responded to Trump Jr.'s statement, saying they would "not confirm or deny any name that is published or promoted by supporters of the president," adding "that publication or promotion of a name shows the desperation to deflect from the substance of the whistleblower complaint."
  • The White House told journalist Yashar Ali that neither "the president nor any senior administration official was aware in advance that the president's eldest son was going to tweet out the name of the alleged whistleblower."
  • Trump Jr. told Ali: "The outrage on this is BS. And those pretending that I would coordinate with The White House to send out a Breitbart link haven't been watching my feed for a long time."

The other side: A group of Senate Republicans told Politico that they did not support naming the whistleblower over fears that doing so might break the law.

  • Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa): "All I can say is I expect whistleblowers to be protected according to what the law gives them."
  • Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.): "We should follow the law. And I believe the law protects whistleblowers."
  • Senate Majority Whip John Thune (S.D.): "The whistleblower statute is there for a reason. And I think we need to respect the law where whistleblowers are concerned. Eventually that person may decide to come forward voluntarily."
  • Sen. Mitt Romney (Utah): "Whistleblowers should be entitled to confidentially and privacy, because they play a vital function in our democracy."

The bottom line: Trump remains a wild card in this saga, as he has tweeted dozens of times since September about the whistleblower — and stood alongside Paul during his call to the media to print his name.

Go deeper ... Trump-Ukraine scandal: The key players, dates and documents

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Donald Trump Jr. defends sharing whistleblower's alleged identity

Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Donald Trump Jr. defended publicly sharing the Ukraine whistleblower's alleged identity on ABC's "The View" Thursday, and he said Joe Biden "doesn't know what state he's in" when a host commented on how President Trump views Biden as a leading 2020 competitor.

Why it matters: The president has said the whistleblower's identity "must" be determined after details of the complaint have been examined in an impeachment inquiry. House impeachment committee members have accused Trump of withholding military aid to Ukraine to pressure its government to investigate the Bidens.

Go deeperArrowNov 7, 2019

Whistleblower's lawyer sends cease-and-desist to White House counsel

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Ukraine whistleblower's lawyer sent a cease-and-desist letter to White House counsel Pat Cipollone on Thursday, saying President Trump's rhetoric puts his client and the intelligence community in danger.

Why it matters: Trump and his allies have called on the whistleblower to come forward and some, including Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., have publicly stated the whistleblower's alleged identity, which has been promoted among right-wing media.

Go deeperArrowNov 8, 2019

Vindman refuses to answer questions amid fear of outing whistleblower

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman faced a round of questioning from House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) over people with whom he discussed the July 25 call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Why it matters: After Vindman said he discussed the call — as a part of his position on the National Security Council — with State Department official George Kent and an unnamed intelligence official, the questioning devolved into a squabble over the impeachment inquiry's rules protecting the identity of the whistleblower.

Go deeperArrowNov 19, 2019