Whistleblower attorneys insist they do not want to ‘shut out’ GOP reps

Lawyers for the anonymous whistleblower whose complaint sparked the impeachment inquiry of President Trump have reached out to House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., insisting that their client is still ready, willing and able to cooperate with Republicans by providing written answers to questions — after GOP lawmakers scoffed at a prior offer to do so.

In a letter dated Nov. 6 and posted to Twitter late Sunday night, attorneys Andrew Bakaj and Mark Zaid cited an earlier communication from Zaid to Nunes on Nov. 2, which offered sworn statements from the whistleblower.

“So long as the questions do not seek identifying information, regarding which we will not provide, or are otherwise inappropriate, I will ensure you receive timely answers,” the letter, insisting that this offer “was specifically to ensure the Minority was not in any way shut out of the process.”

The Nov. 2 offer to provide written answers was swiftly rejected. House Oversight Committee Ranking Member Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, claimed in a statement that “written answers will not provide a sufficient opportunity to probe all the relevant facts and cross examine the so-called whistleblower.”

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The whistleblower first alleged that President Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky included pressure from Trump to have Zelensky assist in investigating his political opponents, including Joe Biden and his son Hunter. The complaint was based on secondhand information from officials who the whistleblower said listened to the call. A transcript of the conversation has since shown Trump did seek those investigations, though the president says the call was “perfect” and has rejected allegations that he used military aid as leverage.

Since the complaint was filed, House Democrats have called several current and former officials before the House Intelligence, Oversight, and Foreign Affairs Committees for closed-door interviews, with public hearings to begin this week.

“You don’t get to ignite an impeachment effort and never account for your actions and role in orchestrating it,” Jordan said.

The attorneys defended their client, indicating that the complaint was not part of a plan to impeach the president.

“As Mr. Zaid wrote to you, ‘Being a whistleblower is not a partisan job nor is impeachment an objective. That is not our role,’” the letter said.

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The letter also defended reminded Nunes that he and Zaid worked on the same side in the past.

“You and Mr. Zaid have worked closely together on numerous matters, particularly when he was protecting the Benghazi whistleblowers, especially from perceived attacks from Democrats. You were their strongest and most devoted ally,” the letter said. “Based on both your many professional, as well as personal, interactions, we cannot fathom you agree with the assessment of your colleagues. We write today to assure you that were the Republicans to submit written questions to our client, we would absolutely follow through as promised.”

As the House prepares for public hearings to begin later this week, Republicans submitted a list of witnesses they would like to come forward. The whistleblower was among them, as the GOP’s preference remains to have the whistleblower answer questions in person. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who is leading the inquiry, rejected that request.