Lawyer for Ukraine whistleblower threatens to sue Trump if he keeps up attacks, but the president’s associates have already been spreading the person’s alleged identity for days

  • President Donald Trump has repeatedly attacked the whistleblower who reported his call with the Ukrainian president, accusing him of lodging a “fake” complaint.
  • It has prompted one of the whistleblower’s lawyers to issue a “cease and desist” letter to the White House telling Trump to stop, CNN reported.
  • “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,” Andrew Bakaj wrote, according to CNN.
  • The letter comes as Trump’s supporters and associates, including his son and right-wing websites, have publicized the unverified name of someone rumored to be the whistleblower.
  • Regardless of the whistleblower’s identity, most of the person’s claims by now have been corroborated by other officials on the record.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A 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 Trump to stop attacking his client, CNN reported Friday.

The whistleblower’s complaint, which was made public in 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 politically motivated investigations.

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

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

“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 the 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 did not immediately responded to Business Insider’s request for further comment on the letter and on what it would do if the president did not comply.

Trump has repeatedly characterized the impeachment inquiry as a “hoax” and a “witch hunt” and the whistleblower complaint as “fake.”

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

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 a memo summarizing the July 25 Ukraine call.

Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr.

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

Bakaj’s letter came more than a week after Trump’s associates began publicizing on social media and fringe websites the name of an official rumored to be the whistleblower.

The president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., tweeted articles and posts containing the name of that person on Wednesday, and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said he would “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, identified a person by name as the whistleblower on October 30. The site said the person’s profile fit with the sparse public information available.

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

Business Insider has not been able to verify the identity and is not repeating the person’s name in this article.

Other major 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.

Many observers, including Business Insider’s John Haltiwanger, have noted that the whistleblower’s identity is actually not relevant to the credibility of his or her claims, most of which have now been corroborated by 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 article 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.”