Note: this article, written by our Executive Director and CEO, was originally published here.
Reckless and Perplexing: Trump Yet Again Destroys Bipartisan Consensus
Donald Trump Jr.’s actions are dangerous, shameful, and a new low, even for the Trump family. They will have a chilling effect on all whistleblowers and hurt the public’s ability to learn about corruption and the truth. Not just on this case, but across the board.
For weeks on end, the president has publicly harassed and denigrated the whistleblower while demanding that news outlets publish their identity. He suggested that all those who might have spoken to the whistleblower about their concerns engaged in treason. In an insensitive, supposed joke in front of children and families of United Nations staffers, he suggested that the officials the whistleblower referenced in the disclosure should be killed. He called the whistleblower highly partisan without evidence or knowledge and repeatedly called the whistleblower untruthful and a liar.
In contrast to their historical stance of bipartisan support for whistleblowers, Republicans on Capitol Hill, for the most part, have either recklessly cheered on and enabled this harassment or remained strangely silent.
Now that a dozen credible witnesses and direct evidence from the White House have substantiated every aspect of the whistleblower complaint to the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) Michael Atkinson – which Atkinson then relayed to Congress despite opposition from the White House – the whistleblower no longer needs to testify. Under any other administration, the whistleblower’s identity would not be subject to public debate and presidential scrutiny.
With no congressional witness now supporting the Trump narrative on the attempted bribery of Ukraine and one key witness withdrawing his previous supportive testimony, the Trump family has decided to blow up the long-standing bipartisan progress on whistleblower protection legislation. Even in recent years, as sharp political divisions have torn at such bipartisan demonstrations of unity, the working relationships around whistleblower protection reforms remained strong. In 2014, every member of Congress voted in support of the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act and each house of Congress has a “whistleblower caucus” made up of equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats that is co-chaired by members of the different parties. In fact, all 21 federal laws since 2000 protecting corporate, federal contractor, and federal government whistleblowers passed unanimously.
Now, in what appear to be perplexing acts of self-debasement, a few members of Congress (with some notable exceptions) have demanded that the media release the name of the Ukraine national security whistleblower. Any such incitement coming from members of Congress serves to violate the spirit of the law that Congress voted for.
Trump’s eventual departure from high office will permit the return to the days of unanimous support for whistleblowers. But it will take years to repair the damage wrought by Trump against bipartisan whistleblower support. It would be justice served if it were a whistleblower who brought down Trump.
Donald Trump Jr.’s action, undoubtedly done with the knowledge of his father, will have far reaching and devastating consequences that will long out live this presidency. His lawless act will put lives at risk and harm the public’s ability to get the truth. Given this administration’s war with the truth and facts that was no doubt the purpose of this action.