“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,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement on Oct. 1.
Grassley didn’t name any politicians or media outlets.
“No one should be making judgments or pronouncements without hearing from the whistleblower first and carefully following up on the facts,” the longtime senator added. “Uninformed speculation wielded by politicians or media commentators as a partisan weapon is counterproductive and doesn’t serve the country.”
Trump and other Republicans have said that the whistleblower’s identity should be made public.
“Like every American, I deserve to meet my accuser, especially when this accuser, the so-called ‘Whistleblower,’ represented a perfect conversation with a foreign leader in a totally inaccurate and fraudulent way,” the president tweeted Sunday.
Grassley said that the fact that the person’s knowledge of the Trump call and White House records came secondhand should not invalidate the reporting.
“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. 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,” he said.
He said, however, that House “inquiries that put impeachment first and facts last don’t weigh very credibly. Folks just ought to be responsible with their words.”
Grassley’s statement noted that he is the chairman of the Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus and has written a number of laws on whistleblower protection.
Last week, a number of Republicans said that the whistleblower had no direct knowledge of the inner workings of the Trump administration.
“He’s not really a whistleblower, so it’s really more hearsay,” Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) said Friday, according to CNN.
“I have to reject the premise of your question. If we’re talking about someone who actually is not a whistleblower—he only heard it hearsay—than that brings everything into question,” he added. “Certainly, the actual facts matter.”
Last week, House Democrats said they would move forward on inquiring about impeaching Trump, accusing him of using his office to pressure Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Vice President Joe Biden in July. Trump has denied the allegations and said the impeachment effort is tantamount to being a “witch hunt.”