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President Donald Trump speaks during a signing ceremony on S.1790, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2020, at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland on December 20, 2019. (Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images)

Trump Retweets Article Outing Name of Alleged Ukraine Whistleblower

Legal experts have said outing a whistleblower is likely a federal crime.

Jake Johnson

President Donald Trump late Thursday retweeted an article that names the alleged whistleblower who came forward to sound the alarm about president's conduct toward Ukraine, which ultimately led to his impeachment by the House of Representatives.

The president retweeted a post by his 2020 reelection campaign's official "War Room" account, which linked to a Washington Examiner article that uses the alleged whistleblower's name in the headline.

"I believe tonight marks the first time president trump has retweeted a tweet featuring The Name before, and that tweet came from his campaign war room."
—Asawin Suebsaeng, The Daily Beast

"I believe tonight marks the first time president trump has retweeted a tweet featuring The Name before, and that tweet came from his campaign war room," said Daily Beast reporter Asawin Suebsaeng.

Unlike the Examiner and other right-wing publications, most news outlets have declined to publish the alleged whistleblower's name amid concerns for the person's safety.

Trump has suggested behind closed doors that the people who provided the whistleblower with information should be executed. The president has also publicly demanded to "meet" the whistleblower and claimed to know the person's identity.

"He hates Trump," the president said of the individual last month.

As The Daily Beast reported late Thursday:

Trump had gossiped for weeks about this alleged whistleblower with various friends, media figures, and senior administration officials, and had asked some people if they thought it was a good idea for him to publicly announce or tweet the name. Several people close to the president, such as Ivanka Trump and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, had privately cautioned him against saying or posting the name in public, arguing it would be counterproductive and unnecessary.

Multiple sources close to Trump had told The Daily Beast last month that they were genuinely shocked the president hadn't already rage-tweeted the name or blurted it out to the cameras, given his massive fury at the individual. On Thursday night, President Trump's restraint appeared to slip.

Legal experts have said that "outing" a whistleblower likely amounts to a violation of federal law.

"Despite mentions on several conservative websites and social media accounts, the identity of the whistleblower has not been confirmed or widely circulated," Eric Havian and Michael Ronickher, who have both represented whistleblowers, wrote in an op-ed earlier this month. "The most vocal Trump defenders in Congress have fallen into lockstep, excoriating Democrats for maintaining the whistleblower's anonymity while in almost every case carefully avoiding disclosure themselves."

"The Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act makes it unlawful to take any 'action constituting reprisal' against whistleblowers who follow the proper procedures to report national security concerns, as the whistleblower did here," wrote Havian and Ronickher. "The law is clear that 'outing' a whistleblower can indeed constitute retaliation and reprisal."


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