The only thing more dangerous than a criminal afraid of being caught is one who has already been fingered, has yet to be convicted, and knows the identity of his accuser.
With Donald Trump already comparing the person who exposed his attempts to hold U.S. military aid to Ukraine hostage until the country’s new president agreed to help him find incriminating dirt on his top potential rival in the 2020 presidential election to a spy — and alluding to the death penalty as an appropriate response — the attorney for the intelligence agency whistleblower, who has been reported by The New York Times to be a CIA officer, is worried about the physical safety of his client.
The attorney, Andrew P. Bakaj, expressed his concern in a letter he wrote last week to Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, saying:
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“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,”
Bakaj also implored the leaders of the House and Senate intelligence committees to “speak out in favor of whistleblower protection and reiterate that this is a protected system where retaliation is not permitted, whether direct or implied.”
As Trump reiterated his desire today to discover the name of the person who initiated the complaint that ensured his impeachment inquiry would move into high gear, Bakaj reminded the administration of the protections that whistleblower statutes provide for those who shed light upon governmental wrongdoing in a post on Twitter where he assumed the president would surely run across it in the course of his daily ritual of rage tweeting.
IC WB UPDATE: The Intel Community Whistleblower is entitled to anonymity. Law and policy support this and the individual is not to be retaliated against. Doing so is a violation of federal law.
— Andrew P. Bakaj (@AndrewBakaj) September 30, 2019
While Mr. Bakaj is surely correct in his reading of the law surrounding his client’s formally registered complaint — which meticulously followed the proper procedures as outlined in the whistleblower regulations — his assumption that Donald Trump has any respect for the letter or intent of federal, state, or local laws is seriously flawed.
One must remember that any president with the audacity to break federal campaign finance laws. constitutional prohibitions against receiving emoluments, and obstruction of justice statutes — among the many other criminal accusations that Trump faces – will have no problem ignoring a mere whistleblower protection regulation.
Given that Donald Trump Jr. was essentially let off the hook by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for his meeting with Russian agents at the infamous Trump Tower gathering because he was too ignorant of the law to realize that he was committing a crime, at least Bakaj’s notification will prevent the president from trying to use ignorance of the law as his own excuse if he discovers the identity of the whistleblower and some unfortunate accident of the type that regularly afflicts Russian journalists and opposition figures occurs to them.
Congress needs to get Bakaj’s client to appear before their committees and on the official record with the full protection of the law before Trump and his defenders can discover his or her name and do anything to prevent their testimony.
It’s what the law requires and what the nation demands.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.
Original reporting by and at The Washington Post.