Lawyers for the intelligence official who filed a complaint against President Donald Trump which triggered a formal impeachment inquiry have raised “serious concerns” for their client’s safety.
In a letter first published by CBS News’ “60 Minutes,” lawyers from Compass Rose Legal Group say events that occurred in the past week have “heightened our concerns that our client’s identity will be disclosed publicly and that, as a result, our client will be put in harm’s way.”
In particular, the lawyers noted comments made by Trump on Thursday in which he suggested that the intelligence official is a “spy” who may have committed treason, which is punishable by death.
“I want to know who’s the person that gave the Whistleblower, who’s the person that gave the Whistleblower the information, because that’s close to a spy,” Trump said during a private event in New York on Thursday, which the LA Times obtained audio of. “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? With spies and treason, right? We used to handle them a little differently than we do now.”
The lawyers called on leading Democrats and Republicans to speak out for protections for whistleblowers, and stress that retaliation against the unnamed official “whether direct or implied” will not be tolerated.
They also claimed that certain individuals have issued a “$50,000 bounty” for information regarding their client’s identity.
“Unfortunately, we expect this situation to worsen, and to become even more dangerous for our client and any other whistleblowers, as Congress seeks to investigate this matter.”
CBS News previously reported that the whistleblower was already under federal protection. But Mark S. Zaid, a lawyer from Compass Rose Legal, wrote on Twitter that CBS “completely misinterpreted contents of our letter,” and stressed that they have not yet reached an agreement with Congress regarding contact with their client.
Trump on Sunday demanded to meet with the whistleblower and doubled down on claims that those involved in the complaint may have committed treason.
“Like every American, I deserve to meet my accuser, especially when this accuser, the so-called “Whistleblower,” represented a perfect conversation with a foreign leader in a totally inaccurate and fraudulent way,” Trump wrote in a series of tweets on Sunday night.
US House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that he expects the whistleblower to testify ” very soon” once security measures are in place to protect their identity.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced last week that the House will launch a formal impeachment inquiry, in light of a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which is at the center of the whistleblower complaint.
Intelligence Community Inspector General, Michael Atkinson, deemed the August 12 complaint “credible” and of “urgent concern,” and passed the complaint on to acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Joseph Maguire.
Maguire testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday and said that both the whistleblower and the inspector general “acted in good faith throughout” and “have done everything by the book and followed the law.”