President Donald Trump openly acknowledged on Monday that he is attempting to obtain information on a whistleblower who is guaranteed federal protections under the law.
“We’re trying to find out about a whistleblower,” he told reporters in the Oval Office, referring to a member of the intelligence community who sounded the alarm on Trump’s July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“When you have a whistleblower that reports things that were incorrect ... the statement I made to the president of Ukraine ― a good man, a nice man, new ― was perfect,” Trump claimed.
It was yet another attempt to undermine the whistleblower’s credibility despite a summary transcript of Trump’s conversation that shows he urged Zelensky to assist Attorney General William Barr and Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani with a corruption probe of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, based on unfounded allegations.
“When the whistleblower reported it, he made it sound terrible,” Trump said about the revelations that have fueled an impeachment against him.
The whistleblower’s attorney, Andrew Bakaj, immediately released a statement on Twitter in response, stressing that his client is “entitled to anonymity.”
“Law and policy support this and the individual is not to be retaliated against. Doing so is a violation of federal law.”
On Sunday, Trump claimed that he is entitled to meet the whistleblower, calling him an “accuser” whose report was “totally inaccurate and fraudulent.”
Last week, Trump even went as far as telling his staff at the United States Mission to the United Nations that the individual’s sources are “close to” being spies, suggesting they be executed for “treason,” according to The New York Times.
In a letter sent Saturday to Acting Director of National Intelligence Dan Maguire, Bakaj raised “serious concerns” for the whistleblower’s personal safety. He cited Trump’s remarks and warning that the whistleblower could end up “in harm’s way” if his identity were released.
“Unfortunately, we expect this situation to worsen, and to become even more dangerous for our client and any other whistleblowers, as Congress seeks to investigate this matter,” he added.
The memo was also shared with House and Senate Intelligence Committee leaders, including Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif).
On Sunday, Schiff told ABC News’ “This Week” that he had reached an agreement with the whistleblower, in which he would meet with the committee. Schiff added he expects to hear from him “very soon.”