The Alleged Whistleblowers Should Be Compelled to Testify in Person and Not Be Permitted to Answer in Writing Under Any Circumstances

October 16, 2019 Updated: October 16, 2019

Commentary

The first whistleblower who started the entire Ukraine impeachment craze is willing to answer questions in writing, rather than in-person, according to his or her lawyer, The Wall Street Journal reported.

This is a drastic change from Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) previous announcement, in which he stated that the whistleblower would testify.

Despite the whistleblower’s “willingness” to answer written questions, he or she shouldn’t be permitted to do so. Rather, he or she should be compelled to testify in person and under circumstances in which Republicans and Democrats have equal rights to question him or her.

It isn’t at all surprising that the whistleblower is willing to answer written questions. First, this method allows the whistleblower and his or her attorney to carefully craft their responses to the questions so that they align with their “story.”

Tangentially, there’s no pressure when answering written questions. In other words, the whistleblower has time to think about how to carefully phrase his or her answers before giving them, unlike in a face-to-face session, where the answers are immediate and less rehearsed.

Finally, when answering questions in writing, there’s nothing compelling the whistleblower to answer the questions. In other words, the whistleblower can object to the form of a question or object on various other legal grounds. In that case, there’s nobody to ask immediate follow-up questions or to immediately address any objections. Therefore, it can take quite some time to resolve any legal objections.

Of course, the most pressing concern associated with the whistleblower answering questions in writing is the inability to cross-examine the individual. In the case involving the first whistleblower, for example, this is vital.

While it’s possible to pose many relevant written questions for the individual to answer, it’s simply impossible to anticipate what his or her responses could be and what follow-up questions would be necessary. It’s also difficult to ascertain how much help the whistleblower had in answering the written questions (from his or her lawyer, etc.).

The House is seeking to impeach the president of the United States, based on the allegations of one or more alleged whistleblowers. The president should have the right to confront his accusers and to cross-examine them by way of counsel. He should have the right to question their credibility by virtue of any potential biases they may harbor.

He should have the right to question them about who they spoke to before filing their complaints and the nature of those discussions, if any. He should be able to ask them about how they learned about his telephone conversation with the president of Ukraine and the specific nature of the call.

Finally, he should also be able to question them about their employment history and whether they ever had any working relationship with Joe or Hunter Biden prior to filing their complaints. The minority members of the House should also have the right to cross-examine the alleged whistleblowers.

There’s simply no comparison between the effectiveness of face-to-face questioning and when a witness has time to think about the question and his or her answer. The former puts the witness on the spot and compels him or her to answer the questions immediately, without consulting his or her attorney, absent a claim of privilege, etc.

It also permits those who are questioning the witness to pose questions that are unexpected and don’t allow the witness to contemplate or formulate a “prepared,” or “canned” response. The whistleblower’s attorney undoubtedly knows this, which is likely why he is shying away from answering questions in a “live” setting.

Neither whistleblower should be permitted to answer questions in writing. Rather, they should be compelled to answer questions in-person and under oath.

If the whistleblowers are concerned about the possibility of being exposed, there are various precautions that could be taken. For example, according to the Daily Caller, “House Democrats wanted to mask the whistleblower’s identity during an interview by disguising his voice and interviewing him away from Capitol Hill.”

The House’s threat to impeach a duly elected president is a serious one. For this reason, the whistleblowers who made the allegations against the president shouldn’t be permitted to comfortably sit down and answer written questions.

They should be compelled to testify in-person, and to answer the pointed questions that the president’s lawyers and the minority members of the House would undoubtedly ask them. Only then could their credibility be seriously measured.

The American public deserves this. More importantly, so does the president.

Elad Hakim is a writer, commentator, and attorney. His articles have been published in The Washington Examiner, The Daily Caller, The Federalist, The Algemeiner, The Western Journal, American Thinker, and other online publications. 

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

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