The lead impeachment inquiry lawyer for House Republicans named the alleged Trump-Ukraine whistleblower during a deposition with a key State Department witness.
Ambassador William Taylor told the lawyer that he did not know the person and had not had conversations with him. But the fact that he was asked at all underscores, what appears to be, a longstanding strategy by committee Republicans to insert his name into the public record. The name of the individual ultimately was included in the transcript of Taylor’s deposition.
In subsequent depositions, Democrats have accused Republicans of trying to use the witness interviews as back door channels for outing the whistleblower Their fears have grown even more pronounced in recent days as several lawmakers—most notably Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)—have threatened to subpoena and reveal the identity of the whistleblower and as the president’s son, Don Jr., tweeted out an article from Breitbart on Wednesday morning naming the alleged whistleblower.
The Daily Beast has previously reported that an aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), Derek Harvey, has provided conservative politicians with names of the alleged whistleblower and information, including misinformation, about that individual.
The name of the alleged whistleblower, which The Daily Beast has not independently confirmed and will not publish here, has been circulated widely by right-wing media; much to the chagrin of his lawyers who have warned that their client’s safety is being deliberately threatened as part of a witness intimidation scheme by the president’s allies.
Taylor appeared in front of House investigators last month to answer questions about what he knew about the efforts by Trump administration officials and Rudy Giuliani to convince Ukraine to launch investigations into a company on whose board former vice president Joe Biden’s son sat—along with the origins of 2016 election meddling—in exchange for a presidential meeting or military aid.
During Taylor’s deposition, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) peppered the ambassador with questions about how exactly he knew that former National Security Advisor John Bolton was supportive of the idea of releasing U.S. military aid to Kiev.
“I was aware, Congressman, in the discussions that followed the meeting at the NSC where the hold was put on,” Taylor said. “And was told a couple of times by people at State and people at the NSC that the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, the National Security Advisor, and the head of CIA all strongly supported the resumption of this assistance.”
Meadows pressed Taylor for more details of the names of individuals he spoke to at the National Security Council who provided information about Bolton’s thinking on the Ukraine situation.
“I guess I’m a little concerned on who at NSC would’ve been telling you about Ambassador Bolton,” Meadows said. “You felt like he was a kindred spirit on this. So who was telling you from the NSC that he was?”
Eventually, Republican committee lawyer Steve Castor directly asks Taylor if he’s heard of or had communicated with the official that conservative media has identified as the alleged whistleblower. Taylor denied knowing him.
In his testimony, Taylor did say that Ukrainian officials did have an understanding that in order to receive military aid from the United States they needed to announced investigations into the Bidens. He put the direct blame for that apparent quid-pro-quo squarely at the feat of President Trump’s private lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
The “origin of the idea to get President Zelensky to say out loud he’s going to investigate Burisma and the 2016 election,” said Taylor, “I think the originator, the person who came up with
that, was Mr. Giuliani.”