Recalling that however vulgar, the Trump Twitter feed has been since the Inaugural, official EH statements, Trump has perhaps crossed a line with regard to the Whistleblower Protection Act that if anything could add to the numerous possible charges of witness tampering.
President Donald Trump retweeted an attack that included an unsubstantiated name of the intelligence community whistleblower at the heart of the Ukraine scandal as part of a series of rants and conspiratorial posts overnight.
Trump or someone with access to his Twitter account removed the retweet Saturday morning.
This is a step the president has been building toward for some time. The name of the presumed whistle-blower has been circulating among Trump supporters for months. Trump surrogates—including the president’s elder son—have posted the name on social media and discussed it on television. Yet actually crossing the line to post the name on the president’s own account? Until this week, Trump hesitated. That red line has now been crossed.
Lawyers debate whether the naming of the federal whistle-blower is in itself illegal. Federal law forbids inspectors general to disclose the names of whistle-blowers, but the law isn’t explicit about disclosure by anybody else in government.
What the law does forbid is retaliation against a whistle-blower. And a coordinated campaign of vilification by the president’s allies—and the president himself—surely amounts to “retaliation” in any reasonable understanding of the term.
While the presumed whistle-blower reportedly remains employed by the government, he is also reportedly subject to regular death threats, including at least implicit threat by Trump himself. Trump was recorded in September telling U.S. diplomats in New York: “Basically, that person never saw the report, never saw the call, he never saw the call—heard something and decided that he or she, or whoever the hell they saw—they’re almost a spy. I want to know who’s the person, who’s the person who gave the whistle-blower the information? Because that’s close to a spy. You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”