Trump: White House 'trying to find out' whistleblower's identity

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive landmark moments of testimony to Congress Lindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight Democrats sharpen their message on impeachment MORE said Monday that the White House is “trying to find out” the identity of the intelligence community whistleblower who filed a complaint about the president’s interactions with Ukraine.

“We’re trying to find out about a whistleblower,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office when asked if he knows the person’s identity, alleging that they reported “things that are incorrect.”

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The president’s remarks came one day after he demanded to meet the whistleblower and cast doubt on the individual’s complaint on Twitter.

Trump on Monday again defended his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that is at the center of the whistleblower complaint, calling it “perfect” and accusing the whistleblower of misrepresenting it in the complaint — a redacted version of which was released publicly last week.

"The whistleblower reported a totally different statement,” Trump told reporters during a swearing-in ceremony for new Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia. “When the whistleblower reported it, he made it sound terrible.”

Mark Zaid, one of the whistleblower’s lawyers, told The Hill in a statement that his client’s identity must be protected by law, referring to testimony by Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph MaguireJoseph MaguireAdministration officials say election security is a 'top priority' ahead of 2020 TikTok faces lawmaker anger over China ties Collins, Warner request unclassified assessment of impact of escaped ISIS prisoners on US security MORE on Thursday.

“As the acting DNI testified last week, the law and policy supports protection of the identity of the whistleblower from disclosure and from retaliation. No exceptions exist for any individual,” Zaid said.

A federal law known as the Whistleblower Protection Act protects federal whistleblowers who work for the government from workplace retaliation.

Neither the whistleblower's identity nor their sex has been publicly confirmed, though The New York Times reported last week that the person is a male CIA agent. 

A rough transcript of the July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelensky released by the White House last week showed Trump encouraging the Ukrainian president to investigate unsubstantiated allegations against 2020 Democratic front-runner and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenFive landmark moments of testimony to Congress Democrats sharpen their message on impeachment Biden: 'I'm more of a Democrat from my shoe sole to my ears' than anyone else running MORE.

The whistleblower complaint raised concerns about Trump “pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the President’s main domestic political rivals,” citing the phone call. The whistleblower did not have direct knowledge of the call but cites “multiple White House officials with direct knowledge” who relayed details about it.

The complaint and a partial transcript of the call released by the White House are now a central focus of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry against Trump.

Trump also railed against House Intelligence Committee Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffDemocrats sharpen their message on impeachment White House struggles to get in sync on impeachment Hillicon Valley: Microsoft pushes for DACA fix ahead of court hearing | Twitter seeks feedback on 'deepfakes' | Trump officials unveil plan to notify public of 2020 interference MORE (D-Calif.) on Monday for exaggerating details of the call during the hearing with Maguire last week, building on earlier criticism of the top Democrat.

“He actually took words and made it up,” Trump said, claiming Schiff offered a parody of the call because “it was so good that he couldn’t quote from it.”