Donald Trump Jr. Tweets Name of Alleged Whistleblower
Earlier this month, Donald Trump Jr., the son of the current president, placed himself under a storm of criticism by naming the alleged whistleblower whose complaint began the impeachment inquiry. In the same breath, Trump Jr. linked an article which claimed the alleged whistleblower was anti-Trump and involved with Obama. “Because of course he did!!!” the man exclaimed in his tweet.
“If he’s the whistleblower, he has no credibility,” Trump Jr. claims in the linked article, “He’s an Obama guy.” In another tweet, he quotes, “There is no Whistleblower. There is someone with an agenda against Donald Trump. What he was blowing the whistle on didn’t happen.”
Despite the president’s claims, the whistleblower’s allegations have proven to have a factual basis. The original whistleblower complaint raised concerns about the president pressuring a foreign government, Ukraine, to intervene in the upcoming election. Thus far, substantial evidence has been raised against President Trump. Among other pieces of evidence, transcripts of the president’s call to Ukraine have been released to the public, where Trump pressures the president to investigate Hunter Biden, the son of one of his opponents in the election.
Although the whistleblower’s claims have been corroborated, and critics claim there is little point in outing the whistleblower besides intimidation, Trump Jr.’s tweet coincides with growing demands to reveal the whistleblower’s identity. At a political rally, Trump and Senator Rand Paul demanded of the press, “Do your job and print [the whistleblower’s] name.” From there, numerous various news sites have posted the unconfirmed name as fact.
Trump Jr. later defended his actions, saying, “Numerous people & news outlets including Real Clear Politics already ID’d him” in another tweet. He also highlights the fact that he is a “private citizen.”
As for concerns about the legality of outing the whistleblower—experts say there is not much against Trump Jr. The law bans the inspector general from revealing the whistleblower, but not others. Other protections for whistleblowers include banning retaliation or reprisal. Some argue that revealing the whistleblower’s name is a form of retaliation. “The whole point of releasing a name is to intimidate someone, to threaten someone, and to scare other people from coming out,” Amy Huntsman, a host on The View, said, during an interview with Trump Jr. “That’s something dictators do.”
Other measures may also be taken; threats that attempt to influence a congressional inquiry are banned by law. If argued well, Trump Jr. could face legal action.
Although Trump Jr. and others calling for the whistleblower to be revealed may not directly be breaking federal law, they put the—still only alleged—whistleblower and their family in danger from people who may look to retaliate in more violent ways. Concerns for the named whistleblower’s safety are not unfounded. “Identifying any name for the whistleblower will simply place that individual and their family at risk of serious harm,” one of the whistleblower’s attorneys, Mark Zaid, said in a statement. He goes on to express that, “Publication does nothing other than show the desperation of a partisan crowd to deflect from the substance of the whistleblower complaint. It most certainly will not relieve the President of the need to address the substantive allegations, all of which have been substantially proven to be true.”