On the Left: The Whistleblower law needs to be left alone.


Much has been made that the whistleblower who first reported that there was something wrong with a call between President Donald Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart President Volodymyr Zelensky, that needed to be looked into. By now every bit of the written report that came from the whistleblower has been corroborated by those with first hand knowledge of the call, so calling he or she, as a witness would be totally unnecessary.

In many ways calling the whistleblower to testify would have about the same impact as Congress calling Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller to testify on the Hill. He told members of Congress nearly word for word exactly what was in his written report that had been released to all two weeks before his testimony.

A recent article in the respected non-partisan blog lawfare explained why it is important to keep the identity of the whistleblower concealed. By the way it should be noted that until recently both Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and former Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN) now Vice President were vocal defenders of the importance of protecting the anonymity of a whistleblower.

By the way the original 1989 Whistleblower Protection Act was passed in both houses of the Congress, by the way the Senate voted 98-0 to pass the law. It was signed by then President George H.W. Bush. It is very unlikely that the law would sail through both houses of Congress and signed by President Bush would be in any way unconstitutional.

Here is what lawfare had to say:

Protection of lawful whistleblowers is important for the country, for the government as a whole, and particularly for intelligence agencies. It is essential that intelligence officers who observe what they believe to be fraud, or illegality or abuse, believe that they can safely report through channels. The Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act, along with implementation of the act by President Obama’s PPD-19 and Intelligence Community Directive 120, provide a path for such disclosures and explicitly prohibit retaliation. The whistleblower in this case followed the requisite procedures to the letter. Failure to protect this whistleblower will send a message that the only way to bring misdeeds to light is to go to the media—a result that will gravely damage the intelligence community.

And not at all incidentally, this particular whistleblower could also face a significant physical risk if his or her identity is exposed. The attacks on the whistleblower, and on the whistleblower’s sources, have escalated to accusations of treason and veiled references to the death penalty. The last few years have shown that some individuals may take such suggestions to heart and act on them—witness, for example, Edgar Welch’s armed intrusion on a pizza restaurant in Washington based on online conspiracy theories. Given the current factual record, there are no compelling national interests that would justify exposing the whistleblower to such a risk.

As I stated above those who choose to defend President Trump should do so based on the facts and not by outing the person who went through proper channels. Let’s be clear here in this case the whistleblower did everything to the letter of the law and reported what he/she thought was improper conduct through all the proper channels.

When Congress began the process into looking into the validity of the complaint brought forth by the whistleblower, the facts in the report were found to be true by not one but at least five people with first hand knowledge of the call between President Trump and President Zelensky.  

If the House voted to impeach Trump, he would have the opportunity to mount a defense in a Senate trial, as President Bill Clinton did in 1999 after his impeachment by Congress. Let’s see how things play out in the Congress and the GOP will keep pushing this false narrative.

Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.