The author of this email has now been charged by federal prosecutors with making a death threat, Politico’s Natasha Bertrand reports. This came after Trump tweeted about the whistleblower many, many times, after Trump suggested the whistleblower should be executed and after Trump ripped into the whistleblower’s lawyer at a rally.
Now that it’s public that Trump’s attacks on the whistleblower resulted in a threat to a person’s life, does anyone doubt for even a second that those attacks will continue?
Of course they will. And allow us to remind you of something: The whistleblower has been entirely irrelevant to Trump’s impeachment travails for months.
While we might not have learned about Trump’s efforts to strong-arm Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into doing his corrupt political bidding if the whistleblower hadn’t come forward, needless to say, there is still zero justification for Trump to have responded to the whistleblower as he has.
But even putting that aside, since we first heard about the whistleblower’s complaint, just about every single fact in it has been verified by other sources.
Trump released the rough transcript of his call with Zelensky, confirming his shakedown effort. A parade of officials have since testified to the broad outlines of the scheme, to their deep alarm about it, to the efforts by people around Trump to keep the plot under wraps and to the roles that key players such as Trump lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani played in it.
Yet despite this, Trump and his allies have kept up the attacks on the whistleblower and have engaged in transparent efforts to place him in danger. House Republicans kept insisting that the whistleblower testify, and even as late as Trump’s trial, Senate Republicans were threatening to haul him in.
Trump himself kept demanding to know where he was, and even retweeted a tweet purportedly outing the whistleblower’s name.
Trump and his allies did this despite warnings from experts that such acts could discourage future whistleblowers from revealing wrongdoing. Indeed, they probably saw those warnings as a good reason to keep up the attacks.
And again, all of this happened although the facts in the whistleblower complaint were getting broadly confirmed by other sources. House Democrats didn’t seek the whistleblower’s testimony for a reason: not just to keep him safe, but also because the case against Trump had been broadly bolstered by a tremendous wealth of evidence on the public record.
There was obviously never any justification for these attacks. But it adds an additional layer of depravity to the whole affair that the whistleblower’s complaint has been utterly irrelevant to Trump’s legal travails for months. The only conceivable reasons for doing this are to discourage future whistleblowers from exposing wrongdoing and to extract naked revenge against the whistleblower for daring to expose Trump’s corruption in the first place.
Indeed, after Trump ousted former National Security Council official Alexander Vindman as retaliation for his powerful testimony, Donald Trump Jr. quite explicitly stated that anyone who is prepared to rat out the boss’s corruption will face punishment:
Now that it has been confirmed that the attacks resulted in an alleged death threat, the targeting will surely continue. Indeed, Senate Republicans are still considering whether to call the whistleblower to testify in the future, and they will surely keep agitating for this.
The larger context here is that Trump has already continued such attacks even when warned that they could have dire consequences. When reporters have personally appealed to Trump’s humanity by telling him they fear his attacks on the media could result in them getting harmed, he has basically shrugged.
Indeed, even after a man was arrested for allegedly threatening mass murder against journalists while repeating Trump’s “enemy of the people” language about the media, Trump kept using the same language.
Trump recognizes zero obligation of any kind to temper his rhetoric or conduct, even when — or especially when — he learns it could have the severest of consequences. So the attacks on the whistleblower will surely continue. After all, chilling the exposure of future wrongdoing is too important to allow any such qualms to get in the way.