‘I don’t want to hear the Fox News questions, okay?’: Trump impeachment probe transcripts reveal furious clashes over whistleblower

Transcripts from the ongoing impeachment inquiry have revealed Republicans and Democrats repeatedly clashed over questions which could have revealed the identity of the whistleblower. The disputes erupted after Alexander Vindman, a national security adviser, testified that Donald Trump‘s call with the Ukrainian president was “disturbing” and “wrong”. During questioning by a Republican investigator, Mr Vindman’s…

Transcripts from the ongoing impeachment inquiry have revealed Republicans and Democrats repeatedly clashed over questions which could have revealed the identity of the whistleblower.

The disputes erupted after Alexander Vindman, a national security adviser, testified that Donald Trump‘s call with the Ukrainian president was “disturbing” and “wrong”.

During questioning by a Republican investigator, Mr Vindman’s lawyer Michael Volkov objected by saying said that his client was “not comfortable speculating” about the whistleblower’s name.

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It prompted Democrat Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, to intervene to say he was “concerned ​about a bad-faith ​effort to out a​ whistleblower who has a ​statutory right to ​remain ​anonymous.”

He ruled that the witness “shall not identify employees, detailees or contractors of the intelligence agency, or provide information that may lead to the revelation of the identity of the whistleblower, someone whose life has been put at risk.”

Mr Volkov also said Mr Vindman would not answer questions about how many people he told about his concerns over Trump’s phone call.

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Pressed repeatedly, Mr Volkov said: “Look, he came here. He tells you he’s not the whistleblower, okay? He says he feels uncomfortable about it. Try and respect his feelings at this point.”

An unidentified voice responded: “We’re uncomfortable impeaching the president.”

Mr Volkov said: “What I’m telling you right now is you have to protect the identity of a whistleblower. I get that there may be political overtones. You guys go do what you got to do, but do not put this man ln the middle of it.”

He added that he had “never seen either party ever try to out a whistleblower in the same concerted way that is going on in here.”

That prompted an further argument between Mr Volkov and Republican congressman Lee Zeldin over the nature of the questions.

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Mr Volkov said: “You know what? I know what you’re going to say. I already know what you’re going to do, okay? And I don’t want to hear the Fox News questions, okay? Yeah, yeah, that’s exactly right.”

When Mr Zeldin tried to assure him that Republicans were not attempting to out the whistleblower, Mr Volkov replied: ”That’s not true. I don’t believe you.”

Jim Jordan, the leading Republican on the House Oversight Committe, also insisted that they “fully care about protecting the whistleblower” before telling Mr Schiff: “In fact, you’re the only one who knows who these people are who started this whole thing.”

At another point, as Mr Schiff again urged a Republican lawyer not to attempt to “out” the whistleblower, Mr Jordan said: “Mr. Chairman, his lawyer can serve as his lawyer. You can just serve as the chairman. We can ask the questions we want to ask.”

Mr Schiff replied: “Mr Jordan, we have an obligation to protect whistleblowers.”

Later in the hearing a Republican investigator asked Mr Vindman directly: “Is the whistleblower —-?” The last part of the question is blacked out on the transcript.

Mr Schiff interrupted and the question was never answered.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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