Ukraine Whistleblower's Lawyers Express Concern for Their Client's Safety in Letter to Lawmakers

Lawyers for the whistleblower involved in the Trump-Ukraine scandal expressed concerns for the safety of their client in a letter sent to lawmakers in Congress this week.

In the letter—addressed to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr and vice chairman Mark Warner, as well as House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and ranking member Devin Nunes—the attorneys said they conveyed "serious concerns" for the whistleblower's personal safety in correspondence to Acting Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire. The document was sent by Andrew P. Bakaj, lead attorney for the Intelligence Community Whistleblower on September 28.

"We call upon the political leadership of both parties to speak out in favor of whistleblower protection and reiterate that this is a protected system where retaliation is not permitted, whether direct or implied," the lawyers wrote. "We further expect that political leaders from both parties condemn any intimidation against our client and others."

In another letter sent to Maguire, the lawyers raised a statement made by President Donald Trump that they found particularly concerning, where he demanded to know who gave the whistleblower information and referred to the person as "close to a spy." "You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? With spies and treason, right? We used to handle them a little different than we do now," Trump said.

The lawyers also noted that a $50,000 "bounty" for "any information" related to the whistleblower's identity has been issued by "certain individuals."

After first obtaining the documents, CBS News' 60 Minutes reported that the whistleblower was under federal protection over safety concerns. But later, Politico's Natasha Bertrand made clear on Twitter that one of the lawyers rebuked the report, saying the show "completely misinterpreted" the letter's contents. "But [the] letter does say 'we appreciate your office's support thus far to activate appropriate resources to ensure their safety,'" Bertrand noted.

The whistleblower's complaint, released publicly on Thursday, alleged that Trump had asked Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to probe the family of his 2020 political rival former Vice President Joe Biden and that the White House had covered up a phone call made between the two world leaders in July. A summary of their conversation, released by the White House on Wednesday, proved that Trump did ask Ukraine for help in investigating Biden.

The allegations detailed by the whistleblower is based off accounts told to them by colleagues in the White House. Trump and his allies have focused on the fact that the information is secondhand to discredit the whistleblower's allegations.

"I want to meet not only my accuser, who presented SECOND & THIRD HAND INFORMATION, but also the person who illegally gave this information, which was largely incorrect, to the 'Whistleblower,'" the president tweeted on Sunday. "Was this person SPYING on the U.S. President? Big Consequences!"

Trump Zelensky
US President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky looks on during a meeting in New York on September 25, 2019, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. Lawyers for the Ukraine whistleblower expressed concerns for the safety of their client in a letter sent to lawmakers in Congress on Sunday. Saul Loeb/Getty