House

Jordan: Republicans to subpoena whistleblower to testify in public hearing

Republicans intend to subpoena the government whistleblower to testify in the House's impeachment investigation into President Trump's dealings with Ukraine, according to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).

The effort is not likely to bear fruit, as Democrats have rejected the idea of outing the anonymous figure, citing safety concerns, and they have veto power over any GOP subpoena requests for witness testimony.

But Trump and his Republican allies in the Capitol have made the whistleblower a central part of their defense, casting doubts about the figure's political motivations even as they readily acknowledge they don't know the person's identity.

In an investigation as weighty as impeachment, they argue, Trump has the right to face his accuser.

"The whistleblower statute never required for anonymity," Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) told reporters recently.

Behind House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Democrats have hammered the Republicans for launching attacks on a figure before that person's role in the Ukraine saga, if any, is clear - attacks, they say, that threaten the very safety of the figure in question.

"The president's allies would like nothing better than to help the president out this whistleblower. Our committee will not be a part of that," Schiff told reporters last week. "They have the right to remain anonymous. They certainly should not be subject to these kinds of vicious attacks."

The anonymous whistleblower has alleged that Trump had compromised national security in asking Ukrainian leaders to find dirt on the president's domestic political adversaries - an accusation that led Democrats to launch their impeachment inquiry in late September. Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Early in the impeachment process, Schiff had expressed interest in having the whistleblower testify. Since then, Democrats have said that testimony is unnecessary, since a number of subsequent witnesses have backed up the allegations at the center of the initial complaint.

After weeks of closed-door depositions guiding their impeachment probe, Democrats plan to shift the process to the public square next week, scheduling a series of open hearings with witnesses who have already testified in private. Last week, the House had passed a package of rules governing that open-hearing process, including provisions that allow Republicans to subpoena their own witnesses - with the approval of the whole committee. The latter stipulation essentially grants the majority Democrats veto power over any witness request they deem to be out of bounds.

Schiff in a letter late Wednesday asked Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee, for a list of Republican witnesses by Saturday, ahead of the first hearings next Wednesday.

Jordan has previously deferred on the specifics of that list to Nunes.

Updated at 12:00 p.m.

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