House Republicans Want to Subpoena the Whistleblower

According to The Hill, it looks like we need to prepare for a Category 5 idiot wind howling in from the House Republicans.

Republicans intend to subpoena the government whistleblower to testify in the House’s impeachment investigation into President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, according to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).

The effort is not likely to bear fruit, as Democrats have rejected the idea of outing the anonymous figure, citing safety concerns, and they have veto power over any GOP subpoena requests for witness testimony.

But Trump and his Republican allies in the Capitol have made the whistleblower a central part of their defense, casting doubts about the figure’s political motivations, even as they readily acknowledge they don’t know the person’s identity.

Donald Trump Jr. has already named the person the Republicans suspect of being the original whistleblower and RealClearPolitics published an article explaining their suspicions. House Republican staffers have used his name in private depositions in an effort to get his or her name in the public record. And I suppose this is the person they would have to subpoena since I don’t think you can subpoena someone unless you can name them.

There’s zero chance that House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff will go along with this stunt, but that’s not the purpose. They want to point at Schiff’s refusal to undermine the fairness of the inquiry. This is a natural consequence of convincing themselves that it matters one whit who the whistleblower is or what their motivation might have been. Their allegations are already substantiated tens times over by witness testimony and documentary evidence.

This is the equivalent of pointing at autopsy photos of a murder victim and saying that no one was killed because the person who originally called 911 voted for Obama. They want people to buy this logic and they don’t particularly care that most people can’t even begin to understand the supposed reasoning behind it. All they hope to do is hold their base in line just long enough to make it politically survivable to defend the president.

It should go without saying that a key aspect of whistleblower protection laws is that the person blowing the whistle can remain anonymous and thereby avoid negative consequences for alerting Congress or the public or their department’s inspector general of criminal wrongdoing. The idea that Congress would seek to force them to testify in public is ridiculous on its face and harmful to the very idea that its possible to avoid retaliation when reporting crimes.

Moreover, just as a prosecutor doesn’t generally need to call the person who called 911 as a witness in a murder trial, especially if they didn’t actually witness the murder, the House Democrats do not have any reason to call the original whistleblower. They are getting far better evidence from other sources, including from the White House’s purported transcript of Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president. So, Trump doesn’t have some right to face the whistleblower because the whistleblower is not his accuser. Even if he did have that right, he’d only have it at trial, not during the investigatory portion of impeachment. Criminal suspects don’t get to follow detectives around while they’re questioning eyewitnesses. They don’t get to sit and watch grand juries conduct their business. Only after they are actually indicted and hauled into court do they get the right to question their accusers.

That the American public has to be subjected to this crime against reason could form its own article of impeachment.

Washington Monthly - Donate Today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at ProgressPond.com