Nov. 12, 2019

On Nov. 7, the lawyer representing the intelligence community whistleblower—whose complaint regarding President Trump’s actions during a call with the president of Ukraine resulted in the launch of Congress’ ongoing impeachment inquiry—sent a letter to President Trump’s lawyer strongly encouraging Trump to “cease and desist” attacks on his client.

The letter, which can be read in full here, summarizes legal and normative standards of behavior the president continues to violate by, among other things, encouraging the press to publish the whistleblower’s identity and equating the actions of a whistleblower to spying.

Whistleblowers play an essential role in America’s democracy by conducting safe and reliable oversight in all branches of the government, at all levels. Protection for whistleblowers—specifically the right to remain anonymous and physically safe to avoid acts of retribution—is crucial to ensure the full accessibility and reliability of their reports.

The president’s call to face his accuser threatens the delicate legal balance of powers surrounding whistleblower rights. Should the identity of this individual be leaked to the public, current safeguards for whistleblowers will erode. Without those safeguards, future whistleblowers will be unable to safely expose potential wrongdoings.

In response, a number of civil society organizations have partnered together to encourage a recommitment to whistleblower protections. The administration, press and Congress should do all in their power to protect the identity of the intelligence community whistleblower—and all future whistleblowers—and show respect for their service to our democracy.

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