GOP Congressman Called Out for Tweeting Photos of Man He Claims Is the Whistleblower

Iowa Representative Steve King tweeted photos on Thursday of a man he claimed was the CIA whistleblower who triggered the Trump impeachment inquiry. The images showed a thin man wearing large glasses standing next to various Democratic officials.

Twitter users quickly took King to task for claiming the whistleblower was Alexander Soros, the son of billionaire George Soros and a board member of his philanthropic organization, the Open Society Foundations.

King later deleted the tweet before reposting with new, low-resolution images of the alleged whistleblower.

Newsweek has not confirmed the identity of the whistleblower.

King's tweet was aimed at Representative Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a leading figure in the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. "Adam Schiff said, 'I do not know the identity of the whistleblower.' @RepAdamSchiff here are four strong clues," along with four photos of Soros with former first lady Hillary Clinton, Senator Chuck Schumer, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The photos in the original tweet were largely culled from Soros' Instagram account, where the 34-year-old philanthropist often posts photos of himself with various celebrities and Democratic politicians. He is currently the deputy chair of the Open Society Foundations, the philanthropy network founded by his father that creates grants for civil society groups globally. Unlike the true whistleblower, Soros has no direct ties to the Central Intelligence Agency or the U.S. government more broadly.

King changed his language slightly in his later tweet. "Adam Schiff said, 'I do not know the identity of the whistleblower.' Me Either, but @RepAdamSchiff here's a better clue," he wrote.

Steve King Whistleblower
Representative Steve King was quickly called out for sharing photos of the alleged whistleblower, when it was later revealed to just be Alexander Soros. Alex Wroblewski/Getty

Axios reporter Jonathan Swan quoted King's tweet and was quick to point out who was in the photos. "I don't have confirmation of who the whistleblower is but I doubt it's Alexander Soros," he wrote. Swan then shared a warning to others who would promote King's unsubstantiated allegation: "This member of Congress is putting a target on somebody without doing a basic Google check."

Politifact reported that accusations of Soros being the whistleblower date to a November 10 Facebook post that featured the same photos of Soros alongside Pelosi and Clinton posted to the group "Trump Daily Report." The original poster wrote "My, my, my said the liar to the fly. Here's your whistleblower. Trump 2020." The post has since been removed from Facebook in accordance with the platform's policy of removing any post naming the whistleblower.

The call to publicly identify the whistleblower—despite concerns that doing so would discourage officials from raising concerns about abuses of power by government officials in the future—have gained steam among Republican officials as the impeachment inquiry has continued. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul called on the media to reveal the whistleblower's identity at a campaign rally in November. Donald Trump Jr. also identified another individual as the whistleblower on Twitter earlier in November, a decision he defended during a recent appearance on The View.

Citing the damage the drive to out the whistleblower could cause, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper called the so-called exposures a "breach of faith and trust" that "will have a chilling effect, clearly, on others who observe wrongdoing."