‘The Whistleblower Is Not The Story’: Lawyers Defend Client As Trump Rages About ‘Scam’

Attorneys for the whistleblower who first filed the complaint about President Donald Trump’s July call with the leader of Ukraine defended their client in a statement Wednesday night amid ongoing efforts by the White House to undermine the person’s reputation.

In the statement, attorneys Andrew Bakaj and Mark Zaid wrote that the whistleblower, who remains anonymous, has “never worked for or advised a political candidate, campaign, or party” and said the person’s entire government career has been spent in “apolitical, civil servant positions.” Both the White House and Republican lawmakers have latched on to a Aug. 26 letter written by the intelligence community inspector general, Michael Atkinson, in which he wrote that the whistleblower had “some indicia of an arguable political bias … in favor of a rival political candidate.”

CNN later reported that that “indicia” was that the whistleblower is a registered Democrat, but that news has only inflamed Trump’s efforts to attack the person.

“In light of the ongoing efforts to mischaracterize whistleblower #1’s alleged ‘bias’ in order to detract from the substance of the complaint, we will attempt to clarify some facts,” the pair wrote, later noting that: “The whistleblower is not the story. To date, virtually every substantive allegation has been confirmed by other sources.”

The president has moved to cast the complaint and the House impeachment inquiry as a “coup” and another “witch hunt” meant to overturn the 2016 election. He furthered those claims Wednesday on Twitter, writing that the whistleblower had a “conflict of interest” and questioning why “this scam” was moving forward.

“I think it is important to find out who that person is,” Trump said Wednesday, according to Politico. “I do not know why a person that defrauds at the American public should be protected.”

Atkinson himself, however, vetted the whistleblower’s complaint and determined that the claims — centered on Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — were “urgent and credible.” A reconstruction of the call released by the White House confirmed that there were several instances of Trump pressuring Zelensky to investigate his top political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter Biden.

Bakaj and Zaid wrote Wednesday that the whistleblower had come into contact with presidential candidates but noted that their client worked in the executive branch and had met individuals “from both parties in their roles as elected officials — not as candidates.”

“The whistleblower voluntarily provided relevant career information to the [inspector general] in order to facilitate an assessment of the credibility of the complaint,” they wrote.

The Washington Post reported this week that House Democrats are trying to determine what steps they can take to protect the whistleblower’s identity, including masking the person’s voice and appearance from Republican colleagues when the person testifies. A person familiar with those discussions told the Post that some Democrats are worried Trump’s allies in Congress could leak the whistleblower’s identity.