Chuck Grassley Breaks With Trump, GOP To Defend Whistleblower
As President Donald Trump and other Republicans in Washington attack the intelligence community whistleblower who sparked an impeachment inquiry, one Republican on Capitol Hill is bucking the trend.
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) defended the whistleblower on Tuesday, saying in a statement: "This person appears to have followed the whistleblower protection laws and ought to be heard out and protected. We should always work to respect whistleblowers’ requests for confidentiality.”
Without mentioning Trump, or any others, by name, the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee added: "No one should be making judgments or pronouncements without hearing from the whistleblower first and carefully following up on the facts. Uninformed speculation wielded by politicians or media commentators as a partisan weapon is counterproductive and doesn’t serve the country."
The president, along with some of his allies, has floated the theory that the intelligence community changed the rules surrounding whistleblowers in order that the individual who rang the alarm bells over Trump’s Ukraine phone call could file a complaint using second-hand information.
Donald J. Trump on Twitter
“WHO CHANGED THE LONG STANDING WHISTLEBLOWER RULES JUST BEFORE SUBMITTAL OF THE FAKE WHISTLEBLOWER REPORT? DRAIN THE SWAMP!”
That theory has since been debunked, but it continues to make its rounds in conservative circles.
It comes as little surprise that Grassley would break ranks and defend the whistleblower. The longtime Republican penned an op-ed for The Washington Examiner in July detailing his appreciation for whistleblowers and the necessity for protecting them if the country desires proper accountability in government.
Grassley also noted in his op-ed that in 1986 he authored amendments to the False Claims Act in order “to encourage whistleblowers to report waste, fraud, and abuse in federal programs.”
The senator wrote that he, his colleagues and all Americans “owe a debt of gratitude to our fellow citizens who are willing to stand up for what’s right despite the personal consequences they may face.”
Such is the case now with the whistleblower whose complaint alleges abuses of power by the president.
According to the complaint, Trump pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, who reasonably stands to be Trump’s political rival in 2020, framing such an investigation as a path toward friendlier relations with the U.S.
Further, the complaint alleges that the White House took measures to cover up the contents of Trump’s conversation by placing the transcripts on a codeword-level system typically reserved for highly classified information.
Despite the fact that this complaint targets a Republican president and White House, Grassley is no less inclined to stand up for the whistleblower against accusations that he or she does not fit the definition of the term, as other Republicans have asserted.
“When it comes to whether someone qualifies as a whistleblower, the distinctions being drawn between first- and second-hand knowledge aren’t legal ones. It’s just not part of whistleblower protection law or any agency policy. Complaints based on second-hand information should not be rejected out of hand, but they do require additional leg work to get at the facts and evaluate the claim’s credibility,” Grassley said.