Schumer calls on IGs to protect whistleblowers from retaliation
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is calling on inspectors general across the government to protect whistleblowers from retaliation in the wake of President Trump’s ousting of a national security expert who testified as part of the House impeachment hearings.
“These attacks are part of a dangerous, growing pattern of retaliation against those who report wrongdoing only to find themselves targeted by the President and subject to his wrath and vindictiveness,” Schumer wrote, according to a copy of one of the letters obtained by The Hill.
Schumer is sending identical letters to the nation’s 74 inspectors general on Monday, just days after Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was escorted out of the White House and told to leave his position on the National Security Council on Friday.
Vindman returned to the Pentagon after his dismissal from the White House, where he had been working on a detail.
Schumer said the “attacks” by the administration also include “attempts to publicly identify” the anonymous whistleblower whose initial report through “proper legal channels” spurred the impeachment probe.
Schumer requested the inspectors general’s offices take “immediate action to investigate any and all instances of retaliation against anyone who has made, or in the future makes, protected disclosures of presidential misconduct to Congress or Inspectors General.”
He also asked the offices to inform him and the public of the date when “personnel at your agency or department were last notified of their legal rights to make protected disclosures anonymously,” and that the inspectors general “seek and provide to Congress written notification from your agency or department’s general counsel that he or she has not and will not permit retaliation or reprisals” against anyone who makes protected disclosures of presidential misconduct.
Vindman’s attorney David Pressman said in a statement Friday that “there is no question” as to why Vindman was asked to leave his position: “LTC Vindman was asked to leave for telling the truth. His honor, his commitment to right, frightened the powerful.”
Trump defended the decision to remove Vindman, calling him “very insubordinate” in a Saturday tweet.
The development follows the end of Trump’s impeachment trial. He was acquitted in the Senate last week, with all but one Republican senator voting against Trump’s removal.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) joined all Democrats in voting to convict Trump on a charge of abuse of power. Romney voted with Republicans against the charge of obstruction of Congress.