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Ukraine whistleblower lawyer sends ‘cease and desist’ for Trump smears

Ukraine whistleblower lawyer sends ‘cease and desist’ for Trump smears
  • President Donald Trump has repeatedly attacked the whistleblower who reported his call with the Ukrainian president, accusing him of working for the Democrats and lodging a “fake” complaint.
  • It has been so bad that the whistleblower’s lawyer has issued a “cease and desist” letter to the White House telling Trump to stop, CNN reported.
  • “I am writing out of deep concern that [the president] is engaging in rhetoric and activity that places my client, the Intelligence Community Whistleblower, and their family in physical danger,” Andrew Bakaj wrote, according to CNN.
  • The letter comes after Trump’s supporters and associates, including his son and right-wing websites, have published the name of someone they allege is the whistleblower.
  • Some have noted that the whistleblower’s identity is actually irrelevant because many officials have corroborated their account on the record since the complaint was published.
  • Business Insider has not been able to verify the whistleblower’s alleged identity, and is not repeating it in this article.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The lawyer for the intelligence-community whistleblower who reported President Donald Trump’s July 25 call with the Ukrainian president has issued a “cease and desist ” letter calling on the president to stop attacking his client, CNN reported.

The whistleblower’s complaint, which was made public in late September, sparked a House impeachment inquiry into Trump. Multiple diplomats have since turned on the president and said he deliberately withheld military aid to Ukraine in exchange for an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his family.

Andrew Bakaj, the whistleblower’s lawyer, on Thursday accused Trump of “engaging in rhetoric and activity” that places the whistleblower “in physical danger.”

Trump’s supporters, including Republican lawmakers, have for weeks tried to unmask the whistleblower’s identity.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, right, accompanied by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., left, speaks about the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Rep. Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, right, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi October 15, 2019. They are key figures of the impeachment inquiry.
Associated Press


“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,” Bakaj wrote to White House counsel Pat Cipollone in his Thursday letter, as reported by CNN.

“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’s law firm has not yet responded to Business Insider’s request for further comment on the “cease and desist” letter, and on what it would do if the president does not comply.

donald trump

Trump walks into the East Room of the White House on November 6, 2019.
Associated Press/Patrick Semansky


Trump has repeatedly characterized the impeachment inquiry as a “hoax” and a “witch hunt,” and the whistleblower complaint “fake.” He has also accused the whistleblower, without providing evidence, of working with the Democratic Party.

He has also hit out at other officials who have cooperated in the impeachment probe.

Earlier this week he threatened to unleash a smear campaign against Alexander Vindman, a White House national-security official and decorated Iraq War veteran who testified that the White House left out some phrases from its memo summarizing the Ukraine call.

Donald Trump and Donald Trump Jr.

Trump and his son, Donald Trump Jr.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images


Bakaj’s letter comes as Trump’s associates have publicized the name of an official who is claimed to be the whistleblower on social media and fringe websites for more than a week.

The president’s son Donald Trump Jr. tweeted articles and posts containing the alleged name of the whistleblower on Wednesday, and Sen. Rand Paul said he will “probably” say the name publicly.

The president also tweeted last week: “The Fake News Media is working hard so that information about the Whistleblower’s identity, which may be very bad for them and their Democrat partners, never reaches the Public.”

Speculation on the whistleblower’s identity came after Real Clear Investigations, a right-leaning website and aggregator, named a person it identified as the whistleblower, on October 30. The site claimed that the individual’s profile fits with the sparse public information.

BuzzFeed News added that the individual has long featured in right-wing conspiracy theories about Ukraine.

Business Insider has not been able to verify the alleged identity, and is not repeating it in this article.

Other mainstream media outlets have not published the name, but right-leaning organizations including Breitbart and The Washington Examiner have, often with the caveat that the whistleblower’s identity has not been confirmed.

Donald Trump Rand Paul

Trump and Sen. Rand Paul in Richmond, Kentucky on October 13, 2018.
Andrew Harnik/AP


Many observers, including Business Insider’s John Haltiwanger, have noted that the whistleblower’s identity is actually not relevant, because their claims have already been corroborated by many officials on the record.

“Much of what has been disclosed since the release of our client’s complaint actually exceeds the whistleblower’s knowledge of what transpired at the time the complaint was submitted,” Bakaj and Mark Zaid, the whistleblower’s lawyers, also wrote in a Washington Post op-ed last month.

“Because our client has no additional information about the president’s call, there is no justification for exposing their identity and all the risks that would follow.”

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