Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) accidentally proved Wednesday that there is no law protecting a whistleblower’s identity — undermining the argument that House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) has used to block any testimony of, or questions about, the whistleblower who triggered the ongoing impeachment inquiry.
Speier read aloud from a Washington Post article published earlier in the day that fact-checked Schiff’s claim that the whistleblower — whom Democrats previously wanted to testify — has a “statutory right” to anonymity.
She read the following into the record (emphasis added):
Federal law expressly restricts the inspector general’s office from disclosing whistleblowers’ identities. It says that “the Inspector General shall not disclose the identity of the employee without the consent of the employee, unless the Inspector General determines that such disclosure is unavoidable during the course of the investigation or the disclosure is made to an official of the Department of Justice responsible for determining whether a prosecution should be undertaken.”
That appears to be the lone statutory restriction on disclosing a whistleblower’s identity, applicable only to the inspector general’s office. We found no court rulings on whether whistleblowers have a right to anonymity under the ICWPA or related statutes. Vladeck said it is nonetheless a best practice to avoid disclosure of the Ukraine whistleblower’s identity, “given the concerns about retaliation.” McCullough said, “We’ve stepped into bizarro-land when senior policymakers are trying to yank a CIA employee into the public spotlight in retaliation for making a whistleblowing complaint, especially when there are credible threats to that employee’s personal safety.”
It is possible Speier had not read the article in its entirety. As Republicans pointed out, the Post fact-checker gave Schiff “three Pinocchios” (out of four).
Speier drew laughs from her colleagues and the gallery when she retorted: “The President of the United States has five Pinocchios on a daily basis, so let’s not go there.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.