Sept. 25, 2019
Central to the fallout of President Trump’s July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is Congress’ demand for the original whistleblower complaint and related inspector general report, two documents the White House is preparing to release by the end of the week. According to media reports, the White House counsel and Justice Department are reviewing whistleblower laws before moving forward. However, as the House points to the Trump-Zelensky call as the foundation for its recently announced impeachment inquiry, the norms surrounding the whistleblower’s complaints are increasingly threatened.
Currently, the Justice Department does not know the identity of the whistleblower, which signals that the correct process by which the complaint was initially made has been upheld. This anonymity must be retained at the discretion of the anonymous individual. As Congress pursues its inquiry and oversight, all involved parties must perform their investigations with the utmost respect for the law and commitment to whistleblower protection.
Should these processes or protections be violated, the repercussions will be detrimental to the ability of future whistleblowers to act with confidence without fearing retribution for their actions.