The New York Times Company
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Monday that the White House was “trying to find out” the identity of the whistleblower whose claims led Democrats to begin an impeachment inquiry last week, even as the whistleblower’s lawyers have outlined “serious” safety concerns for their client as Trump has repeatedly targeted him and compared him to a spy.
Trump’s latest comment, made to reporters in the Oval Office, followed up on a series of Twitter posts over the weekend in which Trump claimed that he deserved “to meet my accuser.”
It was not immediately clear what steps the White House was taking to identify the whistleblower, but the White House has known for weeks that a CIA officer lodged concerns about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. Still, Trump’s fixation on discovering and discussing the identity of the whistleblower, whose anonymity is protected by law, was seen as a brazen move for a president under scrutiny for abuse of power.
“As the acting DNI testified last week, the law and policy supports protection of the identity of the whistleblower from disclosure and from retaliation,” Mark Zaid, the lawyer for the whistleblower, said Monday, referring to the acting director of national intelligence, in response to Trump’s most recent comments. “No exceptions exist for any individual.”
Trump on Monday also questioned whether the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, should be arrested for treason for his description of a phone call Trump had with the president of Ukraine during a recent congressional hearing.
A day earlier, Trump called for Schiff, D-Calif., who is the de facto head of an impeachment inquiry into the call, to be “questioned at the highest level for Fraud & Treason.”
Trump has accused Schiff of lying to Congress when Schiff summarized a portion of what Trump said to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine during a July 25 phone call. Trump asked Zelenskiy to “do us a favor” and investigate Democrats — a request Democrats say is an abuse of power for personal gain. They have started an impeachment inquiry.
Trump has defended his part of the conversation as “perfect,” and focused on Schiff’s public retelling of the call, which the president suggested was mischaracterized.