One of the lawyers representing a member of the intelligence community, who filed a complaint against President Donald Trump, sent a letter to the White House trying to get lawyers there to stop Trump from attacking the whistleblower.
Trump has repeatedly maligned the person, who currently remains anonymous and was found to have indications of political bias against Trump, over the complaint and has said a number of times that the person should be identified and questioned. The whistleblower complaint itself relied on secondhand information and media reports.
Andrew Bakaj, a lawyer representing the person, claimed in the Nov.7 letter (pdf) to White House counsel Pat Cipollone that Trump could be liable if the whistleblower is hurt.
“I am writing out of deep concern that your client, the President of the United States, is engaging in rhetoric and activity that places my client, the Intelligence Community Whistleblower, and their family in physical danger. I am writing to respectfully request that you counsel your client on the legal and ethical peril in which he is placing himself should anyone be physically harmed as a result of his, or his surrogates’, behavior,” Bakaj wrote.
Trump in September said the whistleblower’s sources and the whistleblower himself were similar to spies.
Bakaj cited that statement, and Trump telling reporters this week that the media know the identity of the whistleblower but are refusing to report it, in accusing the president of supporting “acts of violence against my client.”
Bakaj claimed that Trump’s statements led to the whistleblower not testifying to congressional investigators. The team offered to answer written questions, which was rejected by Republicans.
Bakaj said Trump’s activity violates 18 U.S.C. § 1512, Tampering with a witness, victim, or an informant, among other laws.
“Let me be clear: should any harm befall any suspected named whistleblower or their family, the blame will rest squarely with your client,” Bakaj wrote.
“I submit that it is in your client’s best interest to cease and desist in calling for the public disclosure of my client’s identity and to cease in rhetoric that may endanger their life and the lives of their family. Should anyone be physically harmed, my co-counsel, Mark Zaid, and I will not hesitate to take any and all appropriate action against your client. Those who are complicit in this vindictive campaign against my client, whether through action or inaction, shall also be responsible, be that legally or morally.”
The letter came on the same day that old tweets from Bakaj’s co-counsel, Mark Zaid, showed Zaid calling for a “coup” against Trump shortly after the president was elected.
Zaid, who claims to be nonpartisan, wrote in early 2017 that a “coup” against Trump “has started,” and prophesized that “rebellion” would come, to be followed by “impeachment.”
In July 2017, he wrote: “We will get rid of him, and this country is strong enough to survive even him and his supporters.”
Bakaj has issued several missives openly against the president, claiming in Aug. 2017 that Trump was unfit to discharge the duties of the president.
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Author: Zachary Stieber