WASHINGTON (AFP) — US President Donald Trump’s son published on Wednesday the name of the alleged anonymous whistleblower whose complaint fired the impeachment inquiry against Trump, breaking strict conventions for protecting officials who reveal wrongdoing in government.
Amid calls by the US president himself to expose the whistleblower, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted the name of a CIA analyst which has circulated online for weeks, and linked to a Breitbart news article implying the person was pro-Democrat and anti-Trump.
AFP could not independently verify the whistleblower’s identity and is not publishing the name.
But the revelation by the US president’s son comes as the White House seeks to discredit the mounting impeachment effort in Congress against Trump, painting it as driven by politics.
“There is no Whistleblower. There is someone with an agenda against Donald Trump,” the president tweeted on Monday.
“There is no Whistleblower. There is someone with an agenda against Donald Trump. What he was blowing the whistle on didn’t happen. We have the transcript of the call. This is all a farce and no Republican should forget that.” @dbongino @foxandfriends
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 4, 2019
Standing beside Trump at a political rally in Kentucky Monday, Republican Senator Rand Paul threatened to expose the person and demanded they testify in Congress.
“We also now know the name of the whistleblower… I say tonight to the media, do your job and print his name.”
Question: "The whistleblower laws protect the whistleblower. You know it's illegal to out a whistleblower?"
— The Hill (@thehill) November 5, 2019
Andrew Bakaj, the whistleblower’s lawyer, would not confirm or deny the reported name, but said Trump Jr. and others were endangering the person as well as the system built to protect whistleblowers.
“Identifying any name for the whistleblower will simply place that individual and their family at risk,” he told AFP.
“It won’t, however, relieve the president of the need to address the substantive allegations, all of which have been substantially proven to be true.”
Exposed Trump’s Ukraine dealings
Democrats launched the impeachment investigation in August after the whistleblower sent a formal complaint to the inspector general of the intelligence community, alleging that Trump improperly pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a July 25 phone call to help the US leader’s upcoming reelection campaign.
Democrats have accused Trump of abuse of power and illegally leveraging US military aid for political favors from a foreign country– a quid pro quo that Trump denies.
A subsequently released call record shows Trump asked Zelensky for a “favor” and specified that Ukraine should open investigations into Trump’s Democratic rival Joe Biden, as well as into allegations, widely discredited, that Ukraine helped the Democrats in the 2016 election.
Republicans painted the whistleblower, who had worked on the White House national security council earlier this year, as a Democratic Party supporter who lacked direct knowledge of the July 25 call.
But the call record and subsequent testimony to the impeachment inquiry by officials support the allegations that Trump withheld aid to pressure Zelensky to dig up dirt on Biden and the Democrats.
In testimony released Tuesday, close Trump ally Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, admitted he had told a senior Ukraine official that the aid would not be released until Zelensky fulfilled Trump’s demands.