1 in 3 federal workers less likely to report wrongdoing after GOP whistleblower attacks


Trump called for a whistleblower to be executed, one of many attacks against a federal employee who did nothing more than report suspected wrongdoing.

The relentless attacks made by Donald Trump and Republicans against a whistleblower have had a chilling effect on the willingness of federal workers to report wrongdoing, a poll released Wednesday by Government Executive found.

More than one in three federal workers (34%) said they are less likely to report "an act of perceived wrongdoing" to proper authorities because of "attacks on the whistleblower by President Trump and various Congressional Republicans."

The same poll found only 16% of federal employees are more likely to report wrongdoing in light of GOP attacks.

The whistleblower refers to the anonymous federal employee who first raised concerns about Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. On that call, Trump asked Zelenskiy to open investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden, and a debunked conspiracy theory related to the Democratic National Committee.

The whistleblower's report set off a series of events that led to a House impeachment inquiry into Trump's actions, culminating in Trump's impeachment by the House of Representatives on Wednesday on two separate charges: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Throughout the investigation, Trump and Republicans repeatedly attacked the whistleblower and even threatened to expose their identity.

In late September, Trump suggested that the whistleblower should be executed for being a treasonous spy. In October, Trump questioned the loyalty of the whistleblower, asking, "Is he on our Country's side. Where does he come from."

During impeachment hearings, Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Mike Conway (R-TX), Devin Nunes (R-CA), and others repeatedly brought up the whistleblower, with some Republicans attempting to use hearings to expose the person's identity.

Senate Republicans piled on, including South Carolina's Lindsey Graham, who said he was "suspicious about how all this happened," and accused the whistleblower of being a talented writer, saying the report was "a fairly sophisticated effort to write a narrative rather than blow a whistle."

The attorney for the whistleblower — a person Trump also suggested may be a traitor — warned that identifying the whistleblower "will simply place that individual and their family at risk of serious harm."

Despite attacks from Trump and Republicans, Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire said the whistleblower "did the right thing" and "followed the steps every step of the way."

An open letter from 90 former national security officials voiced support for the whistleblower, noting a "responsible whistleblower makes all Americans safer by ensuring that serious wrongdoing can be investigated and addressed, thus advancing the cause of national security to which we have devoted our careers."

In September, Jason Zuckerman, a lawyer who served in the Office of Special Counsel during the Obama administration, warned that attacks from Trump and Republicans could have a chilling effect on federal workers.

"Any federal employee who hears the reaction from the White House will think, 'If I blow the whistle, I will likely be subject to a personal attack,'" Zuckerman told the Washington Post.

"No one wants to ruin their reputation, but we depend on federal employees to blow the whistle on waste, fraud and abuse," he added.

House Democrats offered a similar warning.

"The President's brazen effort to intimidate this whistleblower risks a chilling effect on future whistleblowers, with grave consequences for our democracy and national security," Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Eliot Engel (D-NY) wrote in a joint statement reported by the Washington Post.

The latest poll seems to indicate such predictions were accurate.

In addition to the impact of the whistleblower, the same poll offered an insight into the views of federal workers.

Attacks by Trump and Republicans around the whistleblower and the so-called deep state have eroded public perception of civil service, according to 64% of federal workers. Only 4% said such rhetoric has had a positive impact on public perception.

In line with the American public at large, more federal workers (52%) supported Trump's impeachment than opposed it (43%).

The poll was completed before the House voted on articles of impeachment.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.