Lawyers representing a whistleblower whose complaint has sparked an impeachment inquiry of U.S. President Donald Trump are stressing the need to protect the person's identity, while the president says he deserves to "meet my accuser."
The legal team led by Andrew Bakaj issued a statement Sunday saying lawyers are continuing to work with Democrats and Republicans in Congress to finalize the logistics of having the whistleblower meet with lawmakers, but that no date has been set.
Another lawyer, Mark Zaid, denied a report that the whistleblower was under federal protection due to safety concerns.
The legal group published a copy of a letter it sent to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence saying their concerns for the whistleblower's personal safety have increased during the past week, and that they "expect this situation to worsen." They cited as evidence a statement from the president. The lawyers also said they were aware that people were offering substantial sums of money for information about the whistleblower's identity.
"I want to know who's the person who gave the Whistleblower, who's the person that gave the Whistleblower the information, because that's close to a spy. You know what what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? With spies and treason, right? We used to handle them a little differently than we do now," Trump said Thursday.
In a separate letter to the top Democrats and Republicans on the Senate and House intelligence committees, the whistleblower's lawyers called for lawmakers to "speak out in favor of whistleblower protection and reiterate that this is a protected system where retaliation is not permitted, whether direct or implied."
Trump has been repeadedly posting on Twitter, reiterating his defense of a July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that is at the center of the whistleblower complaint.
"Again, the President of Ukraine said there was NO (ZERO) PRESSURE PUT ON HIM BY ME. Case closed," Trump tweeted Monday.
"Like every American, I deserve to meet my accuser, especially when this accuser, the so-called "Whistleblower," represented a perfect conversation with a foreign leader in a totally inaccurate and fraudulent way," Trump said on Sunday. "In addition, I want to meet not only my accuser, who presented SECOND & THIRD HAND INFORMATION, but also the person who illegally gave this information, which was largely incorrect, to the "Whistleblower." What this person SPYING on the U.S. President? Big Consequences!"
According to a copy of the whistleblower complaint released last week, the person said they "received information from multiple U.S. Government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election."
The whistleblower alleges that Trump sought Zelenskiy's help in digging up incriminating information about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter that would hurt Biden's prospects of winning the Democratic presidential nomination and challenging Trump in the 2020 U.S. election.
While not present during Trump's call to Zelenskiy, the whistleblower says that several officials "with direct knowledge of the call" provided a consistent account of what transpired, substantiating its authenticity.