Top Democrat presses Intel chief to protect whistleblower in wake of Trump comments
© Greg Nash

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHillicon Valley: Apple, Barr clash over Pensacola shooter's phone | Senate bill would boost Huawei alternatives | DHS orders agencies to fix Microsoft vulnerability | Chrome to phase out tracking cookies Senators offer bill to create alternatives to Huawei in 5G tech Sen. Warner calls on State Department to take measures to protect against cyberattacks MORE (D-Va.) is calling on acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph MaguireJoseph MaguireSchiff schedules public hearing with US intel chief  Democrats request briefing on intel behind Trump's embassy threat claim The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump says Iran 'standing down' after missile strike MORE and other officials to publicly pledge to protect a whistleblower at the center of the impeachment fight after President TrumpDonald John TrumpLev Parnas implicates Rick Perry, says Giuliani had him pressure Ukraine to announce Biden probe Saudi Arabia paid 0 million for cost of US troops in area Parnas claims ex-Trump attorney visited him in jail, asked him to sacrifice himself for president MORE said he's trying to identify the person.

“It is incumbent upon the Acting Director of National Intelligence and other intelligence leaders to publicly pledge that they will protect and stand by this whistleblower, and any other individual within the intelligence community who steps forward to lawfully report illegal or unethical behavior within the federal government, anonymously or otherwise," Warner said in a statement on Tuesday.

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Warner, who serves as the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, added that Trump's public comments about the White House working to identify the whistleblower were "deeply disturbing."

"The president’s comments about ‘spies and treason’ and ‘what we used to do in the old days’ are downright dangerous and will do serious damage to our national security long after this news cycle is over," Warner said.

"That kind of rhetoric can only serve one purpose: intimidation of this whistleblower and anyone else within the intelligence community who is considering stepping forward to report wrongdoing," he continued.

Democrats have lashed out at Trump's statements about the whistleblower who filed a complaint about the president's actions toward Ukraine.

Trump, asked on Monday if he knows the person's identity, told reporters that the White House is "trying to find out" about the whistleblower.

Trump doubled down in a tweet on Tuesday, reiterating that he wants to meet the whistleblower.

"Why aren’t we entitled to interview & learn everything about the Whistleblower, and also the person who gave all of the false information to him," he tweeted.

Mark Zaid, one of the whistleblower’s lawyers, told The Hill in a statement that his client’s identity must be protected by law.

The Whistleblower Protection Act makes it a violation for federal agencies to threaten retaliation against individuals who come forward to raise concerns of wrongdoing within the government.