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Hoyer calls for changing House rules to shield whistleblowers

Hoyer calls for changing House rules to shield whistleblowers
© Greg Nash

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse Democrats introduce bill providing citizenship to Dreamers On The Money: Democrats deals to bolster support for relief bill | Biden tries to keep Democrats together | Retailers fear a return of the mask wars Here's who Biden is now considering for budget chief MORE (D-Md.) on Tuesday called for a change in the chamber's rules to prohibit lawmakers from publicly outing whistleblowers who provide Congress with information about alleged wrongdoing in the executive branch.

Hoyer's push comes after numerous Republican lawmakers last year pushed to reveal the identity of a whistleblower at the center of last year's impeachment drama.

The whistleblower had reported on President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump State Department appointee arrested in connection with Capitol riot Intelligence community investigating links between lawmakers, Capitol rioters Michelle Obama slams 'partisan actions' to 'curtail access to ballot box' MORE's call with Ukraine's leader, in which the president pressed for an investigation into Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump State Department appointee arrested in connection with Capitol riot FireEye finds evidence Chinese hackers exploited Microsoft email app flaw since January Biden officials to travel to border amid influx of young migrants MORE, now the president-elect.

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The whistleblower became a target for Trump and his GOP allies after the complaint emerged, which raised concerns among Democrats about ensuring the person's safety and legal protections.

"There is no doubt that the purpose of these threats by sitting Members of the House and Senate was none other than to discourage federal employees, wherever they may work in the executive branch, from bringing to the attention of the U.S. Congress possible corruption and malfeasance in the federal agencies and departments in which they work," Hoyer wrote in a letter to House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.).

"Members of Congress who would willfully undermine their own institution’s ability to conduct oversight by revealing or threatening to reveal the identities of whistleblowers must face consequences."

Hoyer's proposed rules change would make it a violation of the House code of official conduct if a lawmaker or staffer publicly disclosed a whistleblower's identity or other personal information.

Republicans repeatedly pushed for testimony from the whistleblower during last year's impeachment inquiry. But Democrats brushed off those calls, maintaining that it wasn't necessary because they had secured testimony from more than a dozen witnesses corroborating the original complaint.

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The whistleblower complaint alleged an effort by Trump and his lawyer Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Lawmakers face Capitol threat as senators line up votes for relief bill Giuliani again suspended from YouTube over false election claims Sacha Baron Cohen calls out 'danger of lies, hate and conspiracies' in Golden Globes speech MORE to pressure the Ukrainian government to launch an investigation into Biden as well as his son Hunter Biden and that the White House sought to restrict access to records of the July 2019 call with Ukraine's president.

The House ultimately voted along party lines last December to pass two articles of impeachment accusing Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The Senate later acquitted Trump on both charges, also almost entirely along party lines.

During the impeachment trial, Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulHouse approves George Floyd Justice in Policing Act Bipartisan group of senators introduces bill to rein in Biden's war powers House sets vote for George Floyd police reform bill MORE (R-Ky.) submitted a question that included the name of someone he believed to be the whistleblower, which Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts refused to read aloud.

Paul later delivered a Senate floor speech where he stated the name of someone he believed to be the whistleblower.