Trump Put a Target on Whistleblower's Back. Attorneys Express "Serious Concerns for Our Client's Safety," in Letter to Congress: The Whistleblower Is Not Under Federal Protection

September 29, 2019

US Capitol cupoloa  (likedavid )

US Capitol cupoloa (likedavid)


Apparently, Scott Pelley of “60 Minutes” claimed that the whistleblower was under federal protection, based on a letter from his or her attorneys. A Wall Street Journal reporter, however, followed up with Mark Zaid, one of the whistleblower’s attorneys, who charged that “60 Minutes” “completely misinterpreted the contents of our letter.”

Indeed the letter to Congressional leaders from the Compass Rose Legal Group, and an enclosed one to Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, emphasized “conveying our serious concerns for our client’s personal safety.”

You can read both the letter to Congressional leaders and the letter to Maguire in .pdf format by clicking here.

The letter to Maguire directly quotes Trump’s thinly veiled threat to the whistleblower last week as cause for concern. It also mentions a fifty thousand dollar bounty offered by Trump loyalists to any person who provides information leading to the identity of the whistleblower.

On Sunday, Trump asserted that he deserves to "meet my accuser." Given that Trump has a history of inciting violence, the whistleblower’s attorneys have good cause to be concerned about his or her personal safety. It begs the question that besides behaving like a mafia don, Trump is engaging in witness intimidation, obstruction of justice and violations of the Whistleblower Act.

(Trump also suggested on Sunday that Adam Schiff, Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, be arrested for treason, No we are not making this unhinged and chilling rant up.)

The safety of the whistleblower is deemed clearly at risk by his attorneys, and given that any federal protection would ultimately fall under the purview of the Trump administration, such “protection” might be no protection at all.

On Monday, Trump defiantly continued to break several laws and further endanger the personal safety of the whistleblower be declaring that the White House was actively seeking to out the whistleblower. Not only does this violate several laws, but further signifies that we are in the midst of a Constitutional crisis. A lawless president is continuing to break the law, obstruct justice, threaten and endanger people, and there is nothing that can be done except let impeachment take its course.

Commentary begins below is based on an eventual whistleblower appearance before appropriate Congressional committees. It was written prior to release of the whistleblower’s attorneys letter indicating that there has been no firm agreement on Congressional testimony as of this time.

By Neil Wollman

With the whistleblower hearing coming up soon— perhaps even this week -- Republicans can’t wait to obtain the identity of the whistleblower so they can try to chip away at his or her credibility. Kill the messenger if you can’t kill the message.

Right now there is a large effort on the part of right-wing web to find out the identity, but until then, Trump supporters and conservative media are having to work around the edges, spuriously claiming that there are inconsistencies in his or her story: it’s all hearsay, the whistleblower is a spy (which is a bit ironic because the New York Times claims the person works at the CIA), the Ukrainian president said he was not pressured, and so on—with a charge of political motives by claiming that the whistleblower had a bias against Trump.

At some point, presumably the identity of “Deepthroat Two” will be revealed, but the longer that takes and the more the actual story gets out and is verified by others, the less successful the expected pro-Trump scathing attacks on the whistleblower will be once the impeachment narrative frame is set in place.

So, for now, both for the benefit of the whistleblower and those wanting to move things forward with the case for impeachment, the longer the identity is hidden, the better. Watergate Deep Throat’s identity was maintained until his death because Woodward and Bernstein had promised not to disclose Deep Throat until after his passing. That will likely not happen in this case, given that there has already been limited disclosures about the whistleblower’s identity, as noted above, by the New York Times.

More precautions are needed here, including the need to keep the identity of the whistleblower secret from Republican House Intelligence Committee members, even when he or she testifies. I am particularly thinking of all the Republican members who support Trump, because they would like nothing better than to learn the name of Deepthroat Two as soon as possible in order to begin attacking his or her character and motives.

So there must be some means of concealing the whistleblower, be it a facial covering, voice distortion, having the whistleblower be in a different room with no camera—and no photos. And there will be the need for strict rules that limit any type of questions that might lead to identification. Republican members will complain, saying that they need to see the whistleblower to make a judgment of his or her testimony. The need to keep the whistleblower’s identity secret supersedes that need.

House hearings will likely reveal that there are others beyond Deepthroat Two who will corroborate the charges. But the verification of the urgent report, already partially confirmed by Trump’s own edited summary of his call with Zelensky, must precede any public identification of the whistleblower.

For these reasons, it is necessary for the Congressional Dems to protect the whistleblower’s name for as long as possible.

Neil Wollman is a senior fellow at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts, and is the previous co-director of the National Prevention Science Coalition.

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