Politics

Grassley Defends Whistleblower But Says Complaint Requires ‘Additional Leg Work’

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Sen. Chuck Grassley on Tuesday defended the whistleblower who filed a complaint regarding President Donald Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s president.

The Iowa Republican’s statement diverges from the opinions of his fellow congressional Republicans such as Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John Cornyn of Texas, as well as California Reps. Kevin McCarthy and Devin Nunes and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, who have all expressed skepticism regarding the whistleblower’s second- and third-hand accounts.

“This person appears to have followed the whistleblower protection laws and ought to be heard out and protected. We should always work to respect whistleblowers’ requests for confidentiality,” Grassley wrote in his statement. “Any further media reports on the whistleblower’s identity don’t serve the public interest—even if the conflict sells more papers or attracts clicks.”

But Grassley, who chairs the powerful Senate Finance Committee, added that no judgments can be made solely on the whistleblower’s complaint because the information included did not come directly from the whistleblower.

“When it comes to whether someone qualifies as a whistleblower, the distinctions being drawn between first- and second-hand knowledge aren’t legal ones. It’s just not part of whistleblower protection law or any agency policy,” Grassley said, referring to whistleblower legislation he helped write.

“Complaints based on second-hand information should not be rejected out of hand, but they do require additional leg work to get at the facts and evaluate the claim’s credibility,” he added.

“No one should be making judgments or pronouncements without hearing from the whistleblower first and carefully following up on the facts. Uninformed speculation wielded by politicians or media commentators as a partisan weapon is counterproductive and doesn’t serve the country,” Grassley continued.

The president expressed frustration on Twitter Monday in response to reports that the intelligence community allegedly eliminated a rule requiring whistleblowers to have firsthand knowledge of an incident before filing a complaint.

Grassley and fellow Republicans Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Mike Lee of Utah sent a letter to Intellgigence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson on Monday.

“We are not aware of any federal law, regulation or internal directive relating to whistleblowers that requires first-hand information in order for the complaint to be accepted as credible or receive legal protections,” they wrote.

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