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

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHillicon Valley: FTC rules Cambridge Analytica engaged in 'deceptive practices' | NATO researchers warn social media failing to remove fake accounts | Sanders calls for breaking up Comcast, Verizon Bipartisan senators call on FERC to protect against Huawei threats Hillicon Valley: House passes anti-robocall bill | Senators inch forward on privacy legislation | Trump escalates fight over tech tax | Illinois families sue TikTok | Senators get classified briefing on ransomware MORE (D-Va.) is calling on acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph MaguireJoseph MaguireKennedy doubles down on alleged Ukraine meddling amid criticism Director of National Intelligence Maguire should stand for the whistleblower Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — House chairmen demand answers on Open Skies Treaty | China warns US to stay out of South China Sea | Army conducting security assessment of TikTok MORE and other officials to publicly pledge to protect a whistleblower at the center of the impeachment fight after President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he will 'temporarily hold off' on declaring Mexican drug cartels as terror organization House Judiciary Committee formally receives impeachment report Artist behind gold toilet offered to Trump sells banana duct-taped to a wall for 0,000 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.