A storm of reactions ensued after Donald Trump Jr.’s recent publication of a link to a Breitbart story that mentioned the name of the alleged whistleblower, whose complaint has triggered formal impeachment proceedings against POTUS.
Most, who were angered by the presidential son’s tweet, claimed his revelation was breaking strict conventions – namely the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 - to safeguard officials that blow the whistle on what they see as wrongdoing in the administration.
Amid calls by POTUS himself to expose the whistleblower, his son in his turn flew off the handle over the ubiquitous criticism arguing he posted the link as “a private citizen” and he did no more than just peddle off old stuff when he posted the now purportedly deleted link mentioning a CIA analyst, with the latter echoing an earlier report by The New York Times that the whistleblower was from the intelligence ranks and has expertise on Ukraine.
“The entire media is #Triggered that I (a private citizen) tweeted out a story naming the alleged whistleblower. Are they going to pretend that his name hasn’t been in the public domain for weeks now? Numerous people & news outlets including Real Clear Politics already ID’d him”, Trump Jr. tweeted.
I love the outrage about me tweeting an article about the “alleged” whistleblower... also good to know you have other sources confirming.— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) November 6, 2019
Those thinking I coordinated with The White House to tweet out a @BreitbartNews article haven’t been watching my feed much. Didn’t happen! https://t.co/CEOZBmcX4p
Addressing claims he had done it after consultations with his Dad and the administration, Trump Jr. hit back pointing to his whole Twitter feed that, he says, proves otherwise:
The Breitbart piece assumed the person in question was Eric Ciaramella, at some point a senior NSC staffer that worked with top officials under the Obama administration, including then-Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who was dealing with the Ukraine loan guarantee policy in 2014.
The piece also implied the whistleblower was pro-Democrat and anti-Trump.
Trump Jr.’s tweet with a link to the CIA officer story came days after a Trump rally in Kentucky on Monday, where Republican Sen. Rand Paul called on Republicans in Capitol Hill to subpoena former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, as well as the whistleblower.
Paul demanded the media print the purported whistleblower’s name, although not mentioning it at the time.
Asked by BuzzFeed News on Tuesday how he knew the whistleblower’s name, Paul referred to a 30 October report on Real Clear Investigations by author Paul Sperry.
“The person that [Real Clear Investigations] named, that person was in the White House under Obama, did work for Joe Biden, and was there at the time Hunter Biden was being paid $50,000 per month by a Ukrainian oligarch. There are material questions regardless of his involvement as a whistleblower”, said Paul.
Separately, Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz has also recently tweeted the name, which has been circulating online for quite some time since the Real Clear Investigations piece.
According to Facebook’s ad library, there are two active and four inactive ad campaigns on the platform that include the man’s name and face.
A Facebook spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that on Wednesday the platform had taken down those ads and will “revisit this decision should their name be widely published in the media or used by public figures in debate”.
In response, the whistleblower’s attorneys, Andrew Bakaj and Mark Zaid clearly outlined their position:
“Identifying any name for the whistleblower will simply place that individual and their family at risk of serious harm”.
They went on to assert that they will neither confirm nor deny “any name that is published”, adding though that the publication “does nothing other than show the desperation of a partisan crowd to deflect from the substance of the whistleblower complaint”.
“It most certainly will not relieve the president of the need to address the substantive allegations, all of which have been substantially proven to be true”, the statement concluded.
The whistleblower’s complaint has fired an ongoing inquiry into Trump and his interaction with Volodymyr Zelensky when they talked over the phone in July.
The inquiry alleges that the content of the exchange, the transcript of which was declassified and made public upon Trump’s order, might constitute an abuse of power, as the president was accused of offering a barter exchange – the continuation of aid to Ukraine in exchange for a thorough investigation into his political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s allegedly “corrupt” dealings in Ukraine.
The claims have been vehemently denied by Trump and Republicans, with POTUS vowing to read the transcript of the talk “out loud” to prove no quid pro quo was implied.
Trump argued the conversation was absolutely benign and contained to impeachable offences, with Zelensky reiterating that no pressure was involved and laughing it off that the only person that can exert pressure on him is his little son.