President Trump rejected the intelligence whistleblower’s offer to answer Republican questions in writing — and again demanded the person’s identity be exposed.
“He must be brought forward to testify. Written answers not acceptable!” Trump angrily tweeted.
Repeating unfounded claims that the whistleblower lied, Trump signaled that he is more interested in seeking to discredit the whistleblower than to get answers about the explosive claim that sparked the impeachment inquiry.
Trump’s rejection came after lawyers for the whistleblower vowed to work with GOP lawmakers as long as they did not seek to reveal the person’s identity. Federal law explicitly protects whistleblowers’ right to remain anonymous and bars retaliation against them.
It’s not clear whether Republicans really have questions about the whistleblower’s complaint. Virtually all of the claims made by the whistleblower have been verified by the rough transcript of Trump’s infamous call to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky or other officials with firsthand knowledge of the actions taken by Trump.
Trump’s rejection of written answers is particularly ironic since he refused to be questioned by special counsel Robert Mueller and insisted on responding to questions in writing.
The fresh sign that Trump is badly rattled by the impeachment probe came as Democrats moved ahead with the inquiry and the White House sought to recover from weeks of devastating allegations of presidential abuse of power.
RELATED: National Security Adviser Alexander Vindman
Several witnesses were due to testify Monday but they reportedly plan to boycott the session out of loyalty to Trump.
National Security Council lawyer John Eisenberg was the highest profile witness set to appear. Several previous witnesses have fingered him as the one who made the questionable decision to keep Trump’s call to Zelensky under wraps by moving the transcript to a super top secret server.
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top White House expert on Ukraine, told the congressional panel that he reported what he believed to be Trump’s improper actions to Eisenberg.
In response, the lawyer ordered the transcript locked down in the server that only a few people have access to. It’s supposed to be reserved for keeping sensitive national security information secret, not to whitewash embarrassing or illegal actions.
Other witnesses include two White House budget officials who were expected to be quizzed about Trump’s decision to suspend defense aid to Ukraine as he sought to pressure Zelensky to open bogus investigations into Trump’s Democratic rivals.