Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said that he doesn’t believe the identity of the whistleblower at the center of the impeachment inquiry should be revealed, as it has been suggested by President Donald Trump and other lawmakers.
“We protect whistleblowers. We protect witnesses in our committee,” Burr told The Hill, saying he “never” thought that he wanted the identity of the whistleblower to be made public.
Burr said he wants to speak to the whistleblower, who allegedly alerted officials about the alleged quid pro quo between the White House and Ukraine.
“We have a proven track record of protecting people’s identity,” Burr said.
The senator also said that the attorneys for the whistleblower had reversed their stance after they initially made contact and said they would make the whistleblower available for questioning.
“I just think that they were disingenuous when they … sent us a letter saying how anxious they were to come before the committee,” he added.
His comments echo ones made by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who has written extensive laws on protecting whistleblowers, said that he “would not advocate for journalists violating the ethics of their profession,” reported the Des Moines Register.
“Bottom line answer: I expect the law to be followed,” he added. “Most whistleblowers that come to me don’t mind their publicity, they aren’t seeking anonymity. If they did, I would probably try to protect that anonymity.”
Some experts have said that it would not be illegal for Trump, members of Congress, or private citizens to unmask the person.
“I don’t know whether the whistleblower’s very darn important when what the president has done in two instances: one, released the whistleblowers’ comments and secondly, released the transcript of the telephone call with the president of Ukraine,” Grassley said. “How much more transparent can you get?”
But Grassley said that Democrats in the House should treat GOP members fairly during the inquiry process, including the right to subpoena their own witnesses.
“This resolution that the House passed last week does not treat the minority party in the House of Representatives or the president the same way that Nixon was treated in Watergate and the same way Clinton was treated by a Republican congress,” he remarked. “I hope eventually they give the same fairness to the president that Nixon had and that Clinton had.”
In the House, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told reporters on Thursday that he doesn’t know the identity of the whistleblower, saying that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the chief of the House Intelligence Committee of the impeachment inquiry, should call the person to testify.
Jordan, a ranking member on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said Republicans have been asked to submit a list of their witnesses. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the senior Republican on the Intelligence Committee, can subpoena a witness with the approval of Schiff, meaning that Jordan’s move to call on the whistleblower to testify may bear little fruit.
“We’ll see if he gives us any of our witnesses,” Jordan told reporters on Thursday.
Schiff said that he does not want the whistleblower to testify, citing safety reasons.
“The president’s allies would like nothing better than to help the president out this whistleblower. Our committee will not be a part of that,” Schiff told reporters last week, according to The Hill.