Whistleblower Will Testify Before Congress, But Lawyers Fear For His Safety
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Topline: The whistleblower made an agreement to testify before Congress, said House intelligence chair Adam Schiff Sunday, but the whistleblower’s lawyers claimed “the events of the past week”—including President Trump’s rhetoric—raised “serious concerns” for “our client’s personal safety.”
- Andrew Bakaj, the lead lawyer for the whistleblower, wrote in a letter to acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire that Trump’s demands to identify the person who gave information to the whistleblower “does nothing to assuage our concerns.”
- Bakaj was referencing a September 26 statement made by Trump at the United Nations.
- Trump said the person who informed the whistleblower was “close to a spy” and that “in the old days” spies were treated “a little differently.”
- Trump’s statements stunned those present, according to the New York Times.
- Bakaj’s letter also mentioned a $50,000 bounty put out for the whistleblower’s identity, adding to concerns the whistleblower could be in more danger. “We expect this situation to worsen,” wrote Bakaj.
What we don’t know: When exactly the whistleblower will testify. Schiff said the House intelligence committee is waiting for a security clearance from Maguire. But maintaining the whistleblower’s anonymity while getting them in and out of a hearing room presents a set of logistical hurdles, according to the Wall Street Journal.
What to watch for: How long the impeachment investigation takes. House speaker Nancy Pelosi said Saturday it would last “as long as the Intelligence Committee follows the facts.”
Chief critic: President Trump. He was active on Twitter over the weekend by resharing videos from Fox News supporters. He also attacked Pelosi, Schiff, the whistleblower, decried the investigation as a “witch hunt” and even warned of a “civil war” if he was removed from office.
Key background: The whistleblower’s report, filed August 12 and released September 26, alleges that Trump sought help from Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. The report and a memo documenting a July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelensky are now the basis of an impeachment inquiry by House Democrats. The whistleblower’s identity has remained mostly anonymous, except for a New York Times report that revealed the individual is a male Central Intelligence Agency officer.
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