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

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerLawmakers set to host fundraisers focused on Nats' World Series trip The Hill's 12:30 Report: Washington mourns loss of Elijah Cummings Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle mourn Cummings MORE (D-Va.) is calling on acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph MaguireJoseph MaguireSecond intel official considering filing complaint over Trump: report Overnight Defense: State approves M weapons sale to Ukraine | Pompeo rejects Dem demands for officials' testimony | Dems worry about whistleblower's safety | US, North Korea to hold talks Democrats warn GOP, Trump putting whistleblower safety at risk MORE and other officials to publicly pledge to protect a whistleblower at the center of the impeachment fight after President TrumpDonald John TrumpFlorida GOP lawmaker says he's 'thinking' about impeachment Democrats introduce 'THUG Act' to block funding for G-7 at Trump resort Kurdish group PKK pens open letter rebuking Trump's comparison to ISIS 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.

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.