Mark Zaid confirmed his client’s offer to the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes (Calif.), to answer written questions under oath and with penalty of perjury, while also protecting the individual’s identity. In recent days, Trump and his allies have ramped up efforts to expose the whistleblower’s identity, amplifying theories regarding the person’s motives.
Questions “cannot seek identifying info, regarding which we will not provide, or otherwise be inappropriate,” Zaid tweeted, adding that the offer reflects his client’s desire to be seen as nonpartisan. “We stand ready to cooperate and ensure facts – rather than partisanship – dictates any process involving the #whistleblower.”
The whistleblower’s attorneys previously notified both the House and Senate intelligence committees that their client was willing to respond to questions in writing and under oath “in a bipartisan manner.” By offering a direct channel to Republicans, the whistleblower’s team has sought to quell grumbling by GOP leadership — and the president — that the impeachment process has been secretive and unfair.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), appearing on CBS News’s “Face the Nation,” which first reported about the offer for the written testimony, rejected that as insufficient for such a critical moment as impeaching a president.
“I think that the whistleblower should come forward in an open hearing,” McCarthy said, suggesting that the whistleblower should also identify the White House officials whom he cited in his complaint as criticizing Trump’s actions. “He needs to answer the questions. We need an openness that people understand this.”
McCarthy again raised a GOP talking point, saying the impeachment process is flawed, even though Republicans’ previous objections — that the inquiry had not been formally voted on — were dealt with Thursday with a vote to set up formal impeachment procedures.
“There’s no transparency,” said McCarthy, who spent Saturday night with Trump at New York’s Madison Square Garden for a mixed martial arts fight.
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) mocked McCarthy’s complaints, saying the GOP leader had neither the facts nor the law on his side and so was just “pounding the table.”
Nunes’s office did not respond to a request for comment, and it remains unclear whether Republicans have accepted the whistleblower’s offer.
Democrats, who initially considered the whistleblower central to their investigation, now see no need for the individual’s testimony, citing ample evidence from senior administration officials that supports the whistleblower’s claims. Nearly a dozen witnesses, in addition to the call notes released by the White House of the July 25 phone conversation between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, have corroborated the whistleblower’s complaint. Several officials have testified that they expressed concerns to the National Security Council’s attorneys that the call was inappropriate, despite Trump’s claims otherwise.
Trump maintained Sunday that the whistleblower “should be revealed,” insisting to reporters that his phone call with Zelensky was “totally appropriate.” Earlier in the morning, the president tweeted the baseless allegation that the individual is “an arm of the Democrat Party.”
McCarthy, on “Face the Nation,” echoed Trump’s claims and demanded that Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) and his staff be called to testify when asked which witnesses Republicans want to bring before the committee. The House minority leader leveled several accusations against Schiff that have been rejected by Zaid, specifically that the committee chairman met with the whistleblower earlier and might have helped him draft the complaint.
Asked whether he was serious about having Schiff testify before his own committee, McCarthy said, “Yes, I would, because he is the only person who knows who this whistleblower is.” Zaid has repeatedly said that his client never met Schiff and met with only one committee staffer a few months ago, who suggested he see a lawyer and file a formal complaint.
A crucial week lies ahead for Democratic investigators before the public phase of the impeachment inquiry commences, with the list of witnesses potentially corroborating the whistleblower’s testimony growing substantially. House Democrats have summoned former national security adviser John Bolton to testify — the senior-most Trump aide called to testify thus far.
Fiona Hill, a former top Russia adviser at the White House, testified this month that Bolton, who was her direct superior, was incensed over Trump personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani’s politically motivated activities in Ukraine. Bolton likened Giuliani to a “hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up,” according to an official familiar with Hill’s testimony.