What Legal Experts Think Of Trump’s Demand To “Unmask” The Whistleblower
As House Democrats let the subpoenas fly to support their impeachment investigation, President Trump and his Republican allies in the House and Senate are calling on the DoJ to ‘unmask’ the still-anonymous CIA whistleblower who heard through the grapevine that President Trump might’ve tried to strong-arm the newly elected President of Ukraine.
Of course, Democrats are simply horrified by the prospect, arguing that exposing the whistleblower’s identity would deter other whistleblowers from coming forward in the future. The whistleblower’s complaint, which was shared with Congress last week, is crucial to the Democrats’ investigation.
But given the intense level of media scrutiny surrounding the allegations, many believe it will be impossible for the whistleblower to keep his identity a secret for much longer, Bloomberg reports.
President Trump has also made a fairly convincing argument about why the whistleblower’s identity should be revealed: “Like every American, I deserve to meet my accuser, especially when this accuser, the so-called ‘whistleblower’, represented a perfect conversation with a foreign leader in a totally inaccurate and fraudulent way,” Trump tweeted.
Like every American, I deserve to meet my accuser, especially when this accuser, the so-called “Whistleblower,” represented a perfect conversation with a foreign leader in a totally inaccurate and fraudulent way. Then Schiff made up what I actually said by lying to Congress……
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 29, 2019
Once the whistleblower’s identity is revealed, Trump’s allies will be able to identify others in the White House who may have helped him or given him information about either the telephone conversation or efforts to “lock down” the phone-call records. Trump has referred to the whistleblower as a ‘spy’.
Several of Trump’s closest allies in Congress, including South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, are backing him up: “It’s imperative we find out which officials supplied the whistle-blower with information to file a complaint. Who are they? What was their agenda?” Graham tweeted.
It’s imperative we find out which officials supplied the whistle blower with information to file a complaint.
Who are they? What was their agenda?
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) September 30, 2019
Even independent experts say they can’t recall an example where allegations ‘of this magnitude’ were raised where the accusers’ identity didn’t become public.
“I’m not aware of a circumstance in which” a whistle-blower from the intelligence community “has made allegations of this magnitude and managed to remain anonymous,” said Patrick Eddington, a former CIA employee who revealed U.S. soldiers’ exposure to toxins during the 1991 Gulf war. He is now a research fellow at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think-tank.
But as one of the whistleblower’s lawyers told Congress, a $50,000 ‘bounty’ for any information about the whistleblower’s identity has been offered, something that the lawyer said dramatically compromises the safety of his client.
One of the whistle-blower’s lawyers, Andrew Bakaj, alerted lawmakers that a $50,000 “bounty” has been offered for information about his client’s identity and warned that could make it more dangerous for others to come forward.
“The Intel Community Whistle-blower is entitled to anonymity,” Bakaj tweeted. “Law and policy support this and the individual is not to be retaliated against. Doing so is a violation of federal law.”
To be sure, we already know the whistleblower is a CIA analyst thanks to the New York Times. The whistleblower must have known the risks when he filed his complaint. If Democrats are going to base their impeachment theater on this whistleblower’s complaint, then President Trump has a point: He should be able to know the identity of his accuser.
Since the whistleblower’s complaint “appeared credible”, according to the intelligence community’s inspector general…
The intelligence community’s inspector general on Monday reiterated that the whistle-blower complaint “appeared credible.” He also rebutted allegations in conservative media outlets – and echoed by Trump and some Republicans – that the process had been recently changed to allow complaints based on second-hand information. Inspector General Michael Atkinson said in a statement that the whistle-blower followed correct procedures in submitting forms to lodge his or her complaint.
“The Disclosure of Urgent Concern form the complainant submitted on Aug. 12, 2019, is the same form the ICIG has had in place since May 24, 2018,” Atkinson said in the statement. References to first-hand knowledge on previous versions of the whistle-blower forms were removed because they “could be read – incorrectly – as suggesting that whistle-blowers must possess first-hand information in order to file an urgent concern complaint with the congressional intelligence committees.”
…allowing these aspersions to be cast on the president anonymously is an obvious re-tread of the Russia playbook by the Democrats and their allies in the media, and the intelligence community.