Late Friday night, President Donald Trump shared a tweet from a pro-Trump account that named the alleged whistleblower that kickstarted the Trump impeachment inquiry. Trump has repeatedly called to reveal the identity of the whistleblower, and has even said: “Like every American, I deserve to meet my accuser.”
US federal laws grant the protection of whistleblowers, to help protect the identity of those that unmask evidence of wrongdoing by the government. Lawyers for the whistleblower had even issued a cease-and-desist warning to the president, but Trump has continued to call for the whistleblower to be named.
A few hours after the retweet by Trump, the tweet appeared to be missing for many people. This made users speculate that Trump was asked to delete the tweet, or that maybe Twitter had done it. However, it turns out that Twitter was facing an outage that made the tweet appear glitchy for some users. A few hours later, the tweet was visible again.
The handle of the Twitter account Trump tweeted from was @surfermom77. The Associated Press reports that the account resembles a bot account as it includes “an unusually high amount of activity and profile pictures featuring stock images from the internet.” Twitter did not remove the Tweet from that account as it does not have a policy of removing tweets naming the alleged whistleblower. Facebook does, however.
The reaction to Trump’s tweet was not positive. Stephen Kohn, an expert in whistleblower protection laws, says that the President was violating his duty to protect whistleblowers. It is especially important the identity of whistleblowers be protected. According to reports in the Washington Post and the Guardian, a person named as the alleged whistleblower began receiving threats after President Trump tweeted about him. He had to be escorted by armed security personnel to work after this incident.
Critics and the whistleblower’s lawyers began using the hashtag #ProtectTheWhistleblower.
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