The Corner

Law & the Courts

Grassley: Whistleblower Followed the Law and Should Be Heard

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Chuck Grassley speaks in Washington, D.C., October 4, 2018. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

Iowa Republican senator Chuck Grassley issued the following statement today:

“This person appears to have followed the whistleblower protection laws and ought to be heard out and protected. We should always work to respect whistleblowers’ requests for confidentiality. Any further media reports on the whistleblower’s identity don’t serve the public interest—even if the conflict sells more papers or attracts clicks.

“No one should be making judgments or pronouncements without hearing from the whistleblower first and carefully following up on the facts. Uninformed speculation wielded by politicians or media commentators as a partisan weapon is counterproductive and doesn’t serve the country.

“When it comes to whether someone qualifies as a whistleblower, the distinctions being drawn between first- and second-hand knowledge aren’t legal ones. It’s just not part of whistleblower protection law or any agency policy. Complaints based on second-hand information should not be rejected out of hand, but they do require additional leg work to get at the facts and evaluate the claim’s credibility.

“As I said last week, inquiries that put impeachment first and facts last don’t weigh very credibly. Folks just ought to be responsible with their words.”

As Robert VerBruggen noted last night, President Trump, some Republican members of Congress, and conservative media figures have erroneously claimed that federal policy had been surreptitiously changed to allow the Ukraine whistleblower to come forward, but in reality: “The whistleblower filed a form that had been around for about a year. On that form he indicated that he had a mix of first- and secondhand knowledge, not just secondhand knowledge. Further, it has never been the office’s policy to reject complaints that lack firsthand knowledge, a requirement also not found in the underlying laws.”

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