U.S. Rep. Dan Bishop apparently became the first member of Congress to divulge the purported name of the whistleblower whose memo sparked the House impeachment inquiry.
The Charlotte Republican published the name in a Monday tweet.
Bishop was responding to a tweet from someone who said Republicans should refer to the person as “the leaker” or “the deep state spy in the White House.”
He went on to tweet the name of a person he called “a deep state conspirator.”
The federal Whistleblower Protection Act makes it illegal to divulge the name of a whistleblower.
N.C. Republican Party Chairman Michael Whatley also named the person Wednesday in a news release. And Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky mentioned the name in a radio interview Wednesday. The person also has been named by several conservative commentators and websites.
It was the whistleblower’s August memo about a phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky that launched the inquiry that began its public phase on Wednesday.
Members of the House Intelligence Committee heard from and questioned two diplomats about the Trump administration’s role in holding up military aid to Ukraine in exchange for information about Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Asked for comment, Bishop said, “The tweet is self-explanatory. That’s my comment.”
“This is really far outside the mainstream to be in the business of outing a whistleblower,” said John Kostyack, executive director of the National Whistleblower Center. “To our knowledge he’s the only member of Congress (to do so). We’re trying to get everybody to cool down and remind everybody that protecting whistleblowers is a bi-partisan tradition.”
Whatley, the state GOP chairman, called the House hearing “a brazen partisan abuse of power by House Democrats.”
“The Republicans do not get to bring forward a single witness, administration witnesses are not allowed to have attorneys present and (the) whistleblower . . . will not be called to testify. This impeachment inquiry is not about Ukraine. It is not about a phone call. It is about House Democrats desperately trying to overturn the 2016 (election).”
Most of the mainstream media have not identified the whistleblower. And some Republicans also have urged the media and others to protect the person’s privacy. One of them is veteran Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa.
“This person appears to have followed the whistleblower protection laws and ought to be heard out and protected,” Grassley wrote last month. “Any further media reports on the whistleblower’s identity don’t serve the public interest.”