- President Donald Trump and his Republican allies in Congress continue to focus on outing the whistleblower who filed a complaint that led to the impeachment inquiry.
- But the whistleblower’s identity is not relevant. The impeachment inquiry has gathered evidence that corroborates the whistleblower complaint and goes well beyond it.
- If Trump and other Republicans’ hope is that they’ll discredit the allegations against the president by revealing the whistleblower as a partisan actor, of which there’s no evidence, they’re too late.
- A national security lawyer who’s a partner at the law firm defending the whistleblower on Friday told Insider: “The whistleblower is not the story and the whistleblower’s background is no longer relevant. All that matters is the full and complete record outlining the president’s actions.”
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President Donald Trump and his GOP allies have relentlessly sought to unmask the anonymous US intelligence official behind the whistleblower complaint that sparked the impeachment inquiry. But the public disclosure of the whistleblower’s identity would not undermine the mounting slew of damning evidence against the president.
The whistleblower complaint has been corroborated by multiple witnesses in testimony to House lawmakers, and some of its details have been publicly confirmed by the president even as he’s referred to the complaint as “fictitious.”
—Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 25, 2019
The House took a historic step on Thursday in passing a resolution that formalized the impeachment inquiry and signaled the process will begin to transition into a more public phase. Republicans have for weeks complained about the process and the closed-door interviews with witnesses, and they’re now gradually shifting into focusing more on the whistleblower’s identity as they struggle to defend the president against the substance of the inquiry.
But if Trump and other Republicans’ hope is that they’ll discredit the allegations against the president by revealing the whistleblower as a partisan actor — they’re too late.
‘The reality is that the identity of the whistleblower is irrelevant’
With the trove of information that’s been gathered as the Ukraine scandal has gained speed, the impeachment inquiry has gone well beyond the complaint that catalyzed it. At this point, the whistleblower’s part in this escalating political drama has largely been played out.
As the whistleblower’s lawyers — Andrew P. Bakaj and Mark S. Zaid — put it in an op-ed for The Washington Post earlier this week: “As each allegation in the complaint is substantiated by new witnesses, the president and his supporters remain fanatically devoted to bringing our client into the spotlight. But the reality is that the identity of the whistleblower is irrelevant.”
Bakaj and Zaid added that much of what’s been disclosed since the complaint was released in late September “actually exceeds the whistleblower’s knowledge of what transpired at the time the complaint was submitted.” The attorneys said their client has “no additional information” and therefore there’s “no justification for exposing their identity and all the risks that would follow.”
Bakaj and Zaid reiterated they’ve notified both the House and Senate intelligence committees that the whistleblower is willing to answer questions in writing and under oath.
The evidence against Trump is damning, but Republicans aren’t done defending him
The whistleblower complaint centers around a July 25 phone call in which Trump urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, in relation to the latter’s work for a Ukrainian natural gas company. There’s no evidence of illegal activity on the part of either Biden.
Trump and his allies have dismissed the complaint as hearsay, given it was based off second-hand information. But a memo willingly released by the White House confirms that Trump pressured Zelensky in this way, and Trump has publicly admitted it. And a top national security who was on the July 25 call, Iraq War veteran Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, testified to House lawmakers that he was so alarmed by what transpired he repeatedly expressed concern with his superiors.
Additionally, multiple witnesses have provided testimony to House lawmakers that’s corroborated the existence of some form of a quid pro quo involving roughly $400 million in military aid in Trump’s efforts to urge Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden. These witnesses include current and former members of the Trump administration, as well as decorated US military veterans and career diplomats.
Evidence of a quid pro quo has also come via a trove of text messages provided to the House by Trump’s former special envoy for Ukraine, Kurt Volker, and public statements from acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney (though he later walked back on those remarks).
But none of these factors have stopped Republicans from speculating about the identity of the whistleblower and pushing for public testimony.
Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, a close ally of Trump, on Tuesday indicated that he has questions about the whistleblower’s motivate. Jordan told reporters: “It’s tough to determine someone’s credibility if you can’t put them under oath and ask them questions.”
The same day, Trump once again tweeted: “Where’s The Whistleblower?”
Meanwhile, GOP Sen. Rand Paul on Thursday shared an article via Twitter with unconfirmed details about who the whistleblower is and called for the whistleblower to be subpoenaed to testify under oath about “Hunter Biden and corruption.”
‘The whistleblower is not the story’
Bradley P. Moss, a national security lawyer and partner at Zaid’s law firm, on Friday told Insider these efforts from Republicans are an “irresponsible political deflection” and “beneath the dignity of the offices these lawmakers hold.”
Moss added: “The whistleblower is not the story and the whistleblower’s background is no longer relevant. All that matters is the full and complete record outlining the president’s actions, and specifically whether that conduct merits invocation of the constitutional remedy of impeachment or not.”
Congressional Democrats have also raised alarm and slammed Republicans for seeking to out the whistleblower.
Earlier this week, Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell told reporters: “We have a long-standing concern that the president and his allies in Congress aren’t interested in the underlying act but are interested in risking the life of the whistleblower.”