As the House impeachment inquiry sparked by a whistleblower complaint about President Donald Trump's talks with Ukraine intensified Friday night, the New York Times reported that a second official with "more direct information" about the matter is considering coming forward and speaking to Congress.
According to the Times, a "second intelligence official who was alarmed by President Trump's dealings with Ukraine is weighing whether to file his own formal whistleblower complaint and testify to Congress."
"The official has more direct information about the events than the first whistleblower, whose complaint that Mr. Trump was using his power to get Ukraine to investigate his political rivals touched off an impeachment inquiry," the Times reported. "The second official is among those interviewed by the intelligence community inspector general to corroborate the allegations of the original whistleblower."
The first intelligence whistleblower's complaint, which was made public last month, was based on information from other administration officials with knowledge of Trump's efforts to pressure Ukraine to launch a probe into former Vice President Joe Biden.
"A new complaint, particularly from someone closer to the events, would potentially add further credibility to the account of the first whistleblower," the Times noted.
According to the Times, Michael Atkinson, inspector general for the intelligence community, has already interviewed the second official, who has not yet committed to meeting with Congress.
News of the possibility of a second whistleblower comes as Trump continues to lob threats at the original whistleblower, demand to know the identity of the individual, and accuse the person of "treason," a crime punishable by death.
"Having the president label the whistleblower a spy that must be exposed, and having several GOP senators question whether he deserves whistleblower protection in the first place, is absolutely going to affect the willingness of others to come forward," tweeted Georgetown professor Don Moynihan on Friday.
Jesselyn Radack, a human rights lawyer who represented government whistleblowers Edward Snowden and John Kiriakou, told USA Today last week that anonymity is the "backbone" of whistleblower protections.
"What anonymity does is strip away that tendency to shoot the messenger rather than listen to the message," said Radack.