Democrats in Congress are worried that testimony from a whistleblower, who alleges President Donald Trump tried to pressure a foreign leader into investigating a political rival by withholding military aid, could result in the president’s allies on Capitol Hill revealing their identity to him.
As such, drastic measures are being considered by House committee leaders, including ideas on how to conceal the whistleblower’s identity when they do eventually testify before Congress as part of an impeachment inquiry into the president.
The whistleblower has already agreed to speak before Intelligence Committees within both houses of Congress, the Washington Post reported. But if they do, Democrats worry that they will compromise their identity to Trump loyalists within either of the two committees, who may then share with the president who the individual is.
A number of ideas on how to prevent that from happening are being considered, according to sources briefed on the matter.
“There are lots of different protocols and procedures we’re looking into to find out what works and doesn’t work to protect the identity of the whistleblower. That is paramount,” one official said to the Post.
The whistleblower may be put behind a partition, or kept in a remote location to testify, for example. Other possibilities include (in combination or in lieu of being off-site) obscuring the face and voice of the whistleblower, or having their testimony be staff-only, without lawmakers present to ask questions.
There’s significant reason to be worried about the whistleblower’s identity being leaked. Trump has, on a number of occasions, expressed a strong desire to know who the whistleblower is — and not for positive reasons.
Late in September, for example, Trump said he wanted to meet the whistleblower in person, and said there should be “big consequences” for their complaint.
The Senate Judiciary Committee must protect the whistleblower and prevent evidence from being concealed. We can’t sit idly by as the president threatens potential witnesses, whose testimony may be crucial to congressional investigations into credible allegations against him. pic.twitter.com/3JYDlxoEZV
— Senator Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) September 30, 2019
“Like every American, I deserve to meet my accuser, especially when this accuser, the so-called ‘Whistleblower,’ represented a perfect conversation with a foreign leader in a totally inaccurate and fraudulent way,” Trump claimed, per reporting from MSN.
Trump elaborated on his point, adding that he wanted to know how the individual attained their information, including confronting others who may have supplied it to them.
“I want to meet not only my accuser, who presented SECOND & THIRD HAND INFORMATION, but also the person who illegally gave this information, which was largely incorrect, to the ‘Whistleblower,'” Trump wrote. “Was this person SPYING on the U.S. President? Big Consequences!”
In spite of his threatening demeanor online, Trump’s own acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testified before Congress last month that he didn’t see anything wrong with what the whistleblower had done.
“I believe the whistle-blower and the inspector general have acted in good faith throughout,” Maguire said, per a report from CNN. “I have every reason to believe that they have done everything by the book and followed the law.”