Republicans Keep Saying They Want to Question the Whistleblower. Now May Be Their Chance.


On Sunday morning, the lawyer for the whistleblower whose complaint is at the center of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump said he has offered Republicans the chance to submit written questions directly to his client:

1/Our legal team offered GOP direct opportunity to ask written questions of #whistleblower.
Recent GOP messaging, led by President Trump (incl this morning), has been to highlight original #WBer & demand disclosure of identity.
— Mark S. Zaid (@MarkSZaidEsq) November 3, 2019

The lawyer, Mark Zaid, also blasted repeated GOP efforts to unmask the whistleblower’s identity: 

2/Despite long standing policy of HPSCI to protect #whistleblowers, especially anonymity (btw, this was consistent with my efforts w/GOP on #Benghazi), GOP has sought to expose our client’s identity which could jeopardize their safety, as well as that of their family.
— Mark S. Zaid (@MarkSZaidEsq) November 3, 2019

6/So we have offered to @DevinNunes, Ranking HPSCI Member, opportunity for Minority to submit through legal team written questions to WBer. Qs cannot seek identifying info, regarding which we will not provide, or otherwise be inappropriate. We will ensure timely answers.
— Mark S. Zaid (@MarkSZaidEsq) November 3, 2019

As CBS News reported Sunday:

Attorney Mark Zaid told CBS News he contacted Representative Devin Nunes, the committee’s ranking member, on Saturday to say his client is willing to answer Republicans’ questions under oath and penalty of perjury if lawmakers submitted written questions to the whistleblower’s legal team. The inspector general of the intelligence community, a Trump appointee, could verify the whistleblower’s identity in order to satisfy the committee’s minority members while protecting the individual’s anonymity.

Previously, the whistleblower had offered to answer questions under oath and in writing if submitted by the House Intelligence Committee as a whole. This new offer would be a direct channel of communication with the Republicans who are in the minority on that committee. Republican leadership has complained that the process is unfair and overly restrictive on their ability to question witnesses.

It’s still unclear if Republicans will take Zaid and the whistleblower up on their offer; Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the top Republican on the committee, did not respond to CBS’ request for a comment. Meanwhile, the Democrats have cooled on the possibility of having the whistleblower testify. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the House Intelligence Committee chair, said last month that despite Democrats’ initial interest in speaking to the whistleblower while safeguarding their identity, the party is less eager to do so since Trump and the Republicans started attacking the whistleblower’s anonymity and calling for them to be unmasked. “Given that we already have the call record, we don’t need the whistleblower, who wasn’t on the call, to tell us what took place during the call,” Schiff said last month.