Protecting the ‘anonymous’ whistleblower?
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) prevented impeachment inquiry witness Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman from disclosing the intelligence official with whom he discussed President Donald Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky, citing a need to protect the anonymous whistleblower.
While Vindman was being questioned by the House GOP lawyer about who outside the White House he had discussed the call with, Vindman readily named Deputy Secretary of State George Kent (another impeachment witness), and then referred to an intelligence community official.
While he was being pressed for a name, or even the agency the person works for, Schiff jumped in and cut off the line of questioning.
“We need to protect the whistleblower. Please stop,” Schiff interrupted. “I want to make sure that there is no effort to out the whistleblower through these proceedings. If the witness has a good faith belief that this may reveal the identity of the whistleblower, that is not the purpose that we’re here for. I want to advise the witness accordingly.”
Vindman has previously testified, and reaffirmed Tuesday, that he doesn’t know who the whistleblower is, but that he had been instructed by his counsel not to be specific about who he has spoken to within the intelligence community.
Ranking member Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) appeared troubled by the idea that Vindman would be prevented from identifying an intelligence community official when testifying before the Intelligence Committee, but ultimately questioning proceeded without naming the official.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) did not drop the issue, however. He noted that Jennifer Williams, a special adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, and Tim Morrison, former European affairs official on the National Security Council, fully disclosed who they discussed the July 25 call with in their testimonies. And, Jordan noted, Schiff allowed them to do so.
However, despite the fact that Schiff said he does not know the whistleblower, and Vindman said he does not know the whistleblower, Schiff is preventing Vindman from naming a particular intelligence community official out of concern that it would expose the whistleblower’s identity.
A recent report in the Washington Post has fueled speculation that Vindman discussed the call with Eric Ciaramella, who has been alleged to be the CIA analyst who filed the whistleblower complaint that kicked off the impeachment inquiry.
Ciaramella worked on former President Barack Obama’s national security council as the Ukraine director, and as an acting senior director for European and Russian affairs under President Trump. He now works on the National Intelligence Council. Attorneys for the whistleblower have neither confirmed nor denied that it is Ciaramella.
Author: Aaron Colen