Donald Trump's Own Former National Security Officials Sign Open Letter Saying Ukraine Whistleblower Did Nothing Wrong And Deserves Protection

Dozens of former national security officials—including several who once served under President Donald Trump—have signed an open letter praising the first whistleblower to come forward in the Trump-Ukraine scandal and demanding their protection.

Signed by 90 former national security officials, the letter came as news broke that at least one other whistleblower had come forward in the case, seeking to flag concerns around Trump's July 25 phone call, in which he asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate 2020 Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

"While the identity of the whistleblower is not publicly known, we do know that he or she is an employee of the U.S. Government," the letter, signed by prominent officials, including former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, states. "As such, he or she has by law the right—and indeed the responsibility—to make known, through appropriate channels, indications of serious wrongdoing."

"That is precisely what this whistleblower did; and we applaud the whistleblower not only for living up to that responsibility but also for using precisely the channels made available by federal law for raising such concerns," it continues.

Calling for the whistleblower's protection, the letter's signatories praised their efforts, asserting that "a responsible whistleblower makes all Americans safer by ensuring that serious wrongdoing can be investigated and addressed, thus advancing the cause of national security to which we have devoted our careers."

"What's more," they said, "being a responsible whistleblower means that, by law, one is protected from certain egregious forms of retaliation."

"Whatever one's view of the matters discussed in the whistleblower's complaint, all Americans should be united in demanding that all branches of our government and all outlets of our media protect this whistleblower and his or her identity," the national security experts said. "Simply put, he or she has done what our law demands; now he or she deserves our protection."

The letter was signed by scores of former top national security officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations of the past.

In addition to Brennan and Clapper, who had served in different roles under both the Obama and Bush administrations, the letter was also signed by former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and former Senior Director for Counterterrorism on the National Security Council Javed Ali, along with a number of other former Defense Department, State Department and CIA officials.

Some of the signatories had even worked under the Trump administration, including Roberta Jacobson, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Mexico until she resigned in May 2018.

In an interview with Newsweek, Jacobson, who had started out working for the U.S. government as an intelligence analyst in the Department of State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research in the late 1980s, said she had parted ways with the Trump administration after finding herself unable to continue defending the government's policies.

"It was a combination of... the inability to continue to defend policy because, one, I fundamentally disagreed with it, but number two, because I was not being given the tools nor included in a way that an ambassador should be to help make and carry out that policy," she said.

As a former intelligence analyst, Jacobson said she could not agree more with the message driving Sunday's open letter, asserting that it was vital for whistleblowers to continue to be protected.

"One of the things that we in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research and my colleagues across the intelligence community believed in strongly was our independence from public policy," Jacobson said. "You had to be able to be free to write intelligence as you saw, free form pressures in the policy world."

"I feel very strongly about those people career public servants being protected when they do their job by making those reports," she said.

Before Trump took office, Jacobson said she might have been surprised to see a president react the way that the U.S. leader has to the whistleblower's initial report, with the president railing against the anonymous individual and demanding to know their identity. However, "currently, under this president, unfortunately, I'm not particularly surprised," she said.

While Jacobson said she feared that Trump's repeated rants against the whistleblower could have a "severe chilling effect," and discourage future whistleblowers to come forward, the former ambassador to Mexico said it was encouraging to see a second whistleblower coming forward in the Trump-Ukraine case.

"On the one hand, I think it could very well have a severe chilling effect and that's incredibly dangerous, if people no longer feel they can come forward with complaints because they won't be protected, because they'll be identified, because their lives will be made hellish by them just doing their jobs," she said.

"On the other hand, I will say that these cases can also have an opposite effect. They can, even with the pressures that the administration may bring to bear on the whistleblower or others, embolden other whistleblowers, who finally feel that they're not alone," Jacobson said. "That may be the case here with the reports that there's now more than one whistleblower on this issue."

Ultimately, Jacobson said, "people have to try as hard as possible to go with their gut and do the right thing" and that is what the whistleblowers in this case, she said, appear to be doing.

Those who have joined Trump in condemning those trying to flag potential wrongdoing, the former intelligence analyst said, should "understand that, today, this might be a whistleblower on an issue with which they don't agree or with which they don't think they have much connection, but tomorrow it could well be someone who reveals something of huge importance to them."

"You can't cherry-pick the issues," she said. "Because, as I say, today, it may not be something you care about that much but tomorrow it could be something that directly affects your livelihood or the health and safety of your family."

In addition to Jacobson, a number of other officials who served under the Trump administration have signed their names on to the letter, including Andrea Kendall-Taylor, who was a deputy national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia until resigning in July 2018 and James Nealon, who served as the assistant secretary for international engagement at the Department of Homeland Security until he resigned in February 2018 over the government's immigration policies.

While the letter was signed in support of the first whistleblower to come forward in the Trump-Ukraine scandal, we now know there are at least two whistleblowers involved in the case.

Attorneys Andrew Bakaj and Mark Zaid revealed on Sunday that their firm, Compass Rose, was representing "multiple whistleblowers" in connection to the report flagging concerns over Trump's July call with Zelenskiy.

Zaid told ABC News' Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos that the second person, who was also described as an intelligence official, had first-hand knowledge of some of the allegations made in the original complaint.

Despite facing an impeachment inquiry, Trump has maintained his innocence, calling the whistleblower complaint "totally inaccurate."

This article has been updated with statements from Roberta Jacobson, who served as U.S. ambassador to Mexico under the Trump administration before resigning in May 2018 and who signed the open letter.

Donald Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump addresses an event for the Young Black Leadership Summit organized by Turning Points USA in the East Room of the White House October 04, 2019 in Washington, D.C. The U.S. leader has maintained his innocence over his July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Chip Somodevilla/Getty
Donald Trump's Own Former National Security Officials Sign Open Letter Saying Ukraine Whistleblower Did Nothing Wrong And Deserves Protection | U.S.
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