As the U.S. House of Representatives prepares for public impeachment hearings next week and a likely floor vote perhaps later this month, President Donald Trump and his allies are increasingly demanding the unmasking of the whistleblower whose official complaint ignited the process.
The president wants us to wallow in the irrelevant. Not only would stripping the whistleblower of his or her anonymity violate federal law, doing so would do nothing to refute the allegations that the president abused his power.
The reality is that the whistleblower’s complaint has been largely, if not entirely, supported by sworn testimony in closed-door hearings and by the White House’s own partial transcript of the president’s phone conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart.
That the public doesn’t have a face or name for the initial complaint does not matter.
What does matter, to pick an example from this week, is the admission by Gordon Sondland — Trump’s ambassador to the European Union — that he himself delivered to Ukrainian officials an ultimatum: Ukraine would not get the aid approved by Congress until Ukraine delivered a public promise to investigate the business activities in that country of the son of former Vice President Joe Biden.
That admission was made in an addendum to Sondland’s closed-door deposition and released Tuesday by the House Intelligence Committee, which is releasing the full transcripts of its hearings.
Whistleblower protection is an important tool in revealing wrongdoing by government. Many of the same GOP senators now demanding that the whistleblower be identified championed expanded whistleblower protection during the Obama administration. That the likes of Rand Paul and Lindsey Graham are reversing their stance now reveals the depth of their toadyism and the shallowness of their principles.
The House and Senate alike should follow the facts, not the identities, in this serious matter.