An attorney for the law firm who represents the anonymous whistleblower whose complaint pulled back the curtain on the Ukraine scandal called the disclosure of the client's identity Wednesday "disgusting and reckless."
Bradley Moss, an attorney specializing in national security and whistleblower law who works for Mark S. Zaid, the firm that represents the whistleblower, told Newsweek in a statement: "These despicable efforts by the president's family and allies to smear an individual who may or may not be the whistleblower is disgusting and reckless. It puts the individual in danger, no matter if he is the whistleblower or not, and is an insult to the federal whistleblower law."
Moss had earlier stated he was unaware of the person's name and is not directly involved in the case. He declined to "confirm or deny the accuracy of the speculation tweeted out by the president's son."
Newsweek has not verified the identity of the whistleblower.
For weeks, President Donald Trump and his defenders have threatened to publicly name the whistleblower whose complaint catapulted the House into a full-blow impeachment inquiry.
Donald Trump Jr., the president's eldest son, did just that on Wednesday by speculating their name in a tweet to his 4 million followers.
The move by Trump Jr., to mention a name was decried as dangerous and ethically wrong by lawyers of the firm representing the anonymous person.
"Identifying any suspected name for the whistleblower will place that individual and their family at risk of serious harm," Mark Zaid, who heads the Mark S. Zaid law firm, said in a statement. "We will not confirm or deny any name that is published or promoted by supporters of the President. Disclosure of any name undermines the integrity of the whistleblower system and will deter any future whistleblowers."
Zaid added that the "publication or promotion of a name shows the desperation to deflect from the substance of the whistleblower complaint. It will not relieve the President of the need to address the substantive allegations, all of which have been substantially proven to be true."
Trump Jr. referenced a name and shared a Breitbart article that cites a previous story by RealClearPolitics. It named the supposed whistleblower and their ties to the previous administration, including former Vice President Joe Biden.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The identity of the whistleblower has floated around Washington and Twitter for some time as a rumor, but those with direct knowledge of who it is are few and far between.
After teasing he was prepared to name the whistleblower at a campaign rally in Kentucky with Trump and others Monday night, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) reiterated to reporters on Tuesday that he was prepared to do so.
"I'm more than willing to, and I probably will at some point," he said. "There is no law preventing anybody from saying the name, whether you're in the media or you're an official. The only person that's not allowed to say the person's name is the investigator general [of the Intelligence Community]."
Paul deflected from questions about how he would have direct knowledge of the whistleblower's identity, other than the report by RealClearPolitics. He told reporters to do some "investigative reporting" and go ask the person. "Go knock on the guy's house."
Although some of Paul's Senate GOP colleagues were mute on his stated intentions to release a name, others suggested that doing so would be dangerous. And Democrats have argued the demands by some Republicans to hear directly from the whistleblower are now moot because witnesses who've given depositions as part of the House's impeachment inquiry have provided far more information than was revealed in the whistleblower's original complaint.
"Whistleblowers are entitled to protection under the law," said Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) on Tuesday. "To try and reveal the name of this individual, to me, is contrary to the intent of the whistleblower law. Now, I do think the whistleblower should be answering questions."
The whistleblower has said they are willing to answer written questions but not provide in-person testimony.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) stated his belief Tuesday that "we're beyond" hearing from the whistleblower "because we've got the transcript" of Trump's infamous July phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart.
Update 11/6, 2:14 p.m. This story originally stated that Newsweek chose not to publish the name of the suspected whistleblower; Newsweek has not verified the name of the whistleblower.