GOP senator defies Trump: Ukraine whistleblower 'ought to be heard out and protected'

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The Senate's most senior Republican indirectly scolded Trump for threatening the Ukraine scandal whistleblower.

Donald Trump has spent much of the past few days threatening and attempting to intimidate a whistleblower who filed a complaint after Trump allegedly violated the law to seek Ukraine's help for his 2020 reelection campaign. The most senior Republican in the Senate is not happy about it.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the Senate's president pro tempore and chair of its Whistleblower Protection Caucus, defended the whistleblower on Tuesday in a strongly worded statement.

While some of his criticism was clearly aimed at media outlets like the New York Times, which published a controversial story last week that included clues as to the whistleblower's identity, it was clear that most of it was intended for the highest-ranking member of his own party, Trump.

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"This person appears to have followed the whistleblower protection laws and ought to be heard out and protected. We should always work to respect whistleblowers’ requests for confidentiality. Any further media reports on the whistleblower’s identity don’t serve the public interest—even if the conflict sells more papers or attracts clicks," Grassley wrote.

"No one should be making judgments or pronouncements without hearing from the whistleblower first and carefully following up on the facts. Uninformed speculation wielded by politicians or media commentators as a partisan weapon is counterproductive and doesn’t serve the country."

Trump has repeatedly attacked and threatened the individual, demanding the non-existent "right" to confront his accuser directly.

Trump and his defenders have also attempted to dismiss both the whistleblower's credibility and their entitlement to whistleblower protections based on the fact that they allege the information provided was not based on first-hand knowledge. But Grassley also dismissed this argument, noting that they have no legal basis.

“When it comes to whether someone qualifies as a whistleblower, the distinctions being drawn between first- and second-hand knowledge aren’t legal ones. It's just not part of whistleblower protection law or any agency policy," he said. "Complaints based on second-hand information should not be rejected out of hand, but they do require additional leg work to get at the facts and evaluate the claim's credibility."

Trump took a break from his attacks on the whistleblower on Tuesday morning to arguably violate the U.S. constitution's speech and debate clause, threatening House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff.

Legal experts have noted that this violates Article I, Section 6 of the Constitution, which expressly states that for "any Speech or Debate in either House," members "shall not be questioned in any other Place."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.