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Hoyer calls for changing House rules to shield whistleblowers

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (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 Trump’s call with Ukraine’s leader, in which the president pressed for an investigation into Joe Biden, now the president-elect.

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.

The whistleblower complaint alleged an effort by Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani 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 Paul (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.

Tags Donald Trump Impeachment Joe Biden Rand Paul Rudy Giuliani Steny Hoyer Ukraine

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File - A Chevrolet Bolt is displayed at the Philadelphia Auto Show, Jan. 27, 2023, in Philadelphia. Electric vehicles are far less reliable than gasoline-powered cars, trucks and SUVs, mainly because most automakers are still learning how to build a completely new power system, according to this year's auto reliability survey by Consumer Reports.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
File - A Chevrolet Bolt is displayed at the Philadelphia Auto Show, Jan. 27, 2023, in Philadelphia. Electric vehicles are far less reliable than gasoline-powered cars, trucks and SUVs, mainly because most automakers are still learning how to build a completely new power system, according to this year's auto reliability survey by Consumer Reports.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

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