WASHINGTON – House Democrats are weighing extraordinary steps to secure testimony from a whistleblower whose complaint prompted an impeachment inquiry, masking his identity to prevent President Donald Trump’s congressional allies from exposing the individual, according to three officials familiar with the deliberations.
The steps under consideration include having the whistleblower testify from a remote location and obscuring the individual’s appearance and voice, these officials said.
The efforts reflect the deepening distrust between Democrats running the impeachment inquiry of Trump and their GOP colleagues they see as fully invested in defending a president who has attacked the whistleblower’s credibility and demanded absolute loyalty from Republicans.
“There are lots of different protocols and procedures we’re looking into to find out what works and doesn’t work to protect the identity of the whistleblower,” said an official familiar with the talks. “That is paramount.”
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak frankly.
WASHINGTON — President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph Giuliani, says he is working with outside lawyers to prepare lawsuits against prominent Democrats such as House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff of California and Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.
Giuliani’s remarks about his legal plans were made over the weekend in a series of calls with Yahoo News, amid cable news appearances in which he continued to aggressively defend the president. That defense was blunted by news of an additional whistleblower who would reportedly corroborate how Trump allegedly pressured the new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, into investigating Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, a 2020 presidential candidate.
In numerous recent conversations with colleagues, including last week’s senior staff meeting, White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney has said he thinks President Trump could win 45 states in 2020 after the impeachment process — a magnitude of landslide that few if any independent pollsters would dare predict.
Between the lines: People who’ve heard Mulvaney make this remark say he wasn’t joking or even exaggerating. He appears to genuinely believe that impeachment will have a profoundly positive effect on Trump’s political fortunes, according to 3 sources who have heard Mulvaney make the 45-state prediction.
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and his son Hunter could be forced to testify if the Senate ends up holding an impeachment trial of President Trump, say congressional aides who questioned whether Democrats have thought through the full implications of their impeachment drive.
Not only could Mr. Biden be forced to be in D.C. at a critical moment in the presidential campaign, but so could many of his chief rivals — the half-dozen senators also vying for Democrats’ presidential nomination, impeachment experts said.
For that matter, if the House chooses to impeach Mr. Trump on charges stemming from the special counsel’s Russia investigation, aides said it could open the door to witnesses such as fired FBI Agent Peter Strzok or even major figures from the Obama administration.
“I don’t think the Dems have thought this through at all,” one staffer told The Washington Times.