The Republican president pro tempore of the Senate just issued a stinging rebuke of his colleagues and his party’s President, admonishing them for refusing to hear from and unmask the identity of the whistleblower whose report on Trump’s now-infamous conversation with the Ukranian president sparked the beginnings of impeachment proceedings last week.
“Folks just ought to be responsible with their words,” the long-serving Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) wrote in a public statement. “As I said last week, inquiries that put impeachment first and facts last don’t weigh very credibly.” He continued:
“This person appears to have followed the whistleblower protection laws and ought to be heard out and protected.
No one should be making judgments or pronouncements without hearing from the whistleblower first and carefully following up on the facts.
Uninformed speculation wielded by politicians or media commentators as a partisan weapon is counterproductive and doesn’t serve the country.”
While Grassley did not express support for the House’s impeachment inquiry in his statement, it’s a clear call to Republicans to place country over the party as the Trump administration’s worst abuses of power are exposed to the world.
“We should always work to respect whistleblowers’ requests for confidentiality,” wrote Senator Grassley, asking the media to refrain from exposing that person at this time. “Any further media reports on the whistleblower’s identity don’t serve the public interest—even if the conflict sells more papers or attracts clicks,” said the long-time whistleblower advocate who helped formed the bipartisan Senate whistleblower caucus in 2015.
But the Republican senator from Iowa didn’t stop there, lancing his colleague Lindsey Graham and the right-wing media machine‘s latest narrative that the whistleblower didn’t have “firsthand knowledge” of the events.
“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,” wrote Senator Grassley in his press release. “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.”
Every single part of Senator Chuck Grassley’s statement is a denunciation of President Trump’s handling of the whistleblower complaint or an excoriating put down of his Republican colleagues’ factless efforts to protect him.
His words about protecting the whistleblower should be seen as a shot across the bow at the Trump White House. On the very same day that the Department of Justice finally released the whistleblower’s complaint did Trump begin threatening the lives of the national security officials who spoke with the CIA officer in the normal course of doing their jobs protecting America from foreign threats.
Yesterday, President Trump escalated his attacks against the brave whistleblower, demanding that somebody unmask their identity and confront his “accuser” whose allegations he himself has mostly confirmed in public.
If President Trump has lost the longest-serving Senate Republican, it will only embolden proponents of impeaching the president for his corruption, high crimes and abuse of power.
Grassley's statement doesn't just shut down Trump's comments on what constitutes a whistleblower.
It shuts down many of his GOP colleagues making the same false argument that a whistleblower is defined by someone who has firsthand knowledge of a situation. pic.twitter.com/76e1BSG0Zm
— Jennifer Bendery (@jbendery) October 1, 2019
Grant Stern is an Editor-At-Large for OccupyDemocrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report. Find out more at grantstern.com.