Whistleblower’s team preparing for possible Senate testimony

Whistleblower’s team preparing for possible Senate testimony

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The whistleblower who sparked the impeachment inquiry – widely believed to be CIA worker Eric Ciaramella – is preparing for the possibility of testifying in the Senate trial.

The whistleblower's lawyers are preparing for all possibilities, including receiving a subpoena for testimony as allies of President Trump continue their demands to hear from the anonymous person. House Democrats have charged Trump with two articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Democrats say Trump abused his office by pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rival Joe Biden and his son ahead of the 2020 election while withholding $400 million in US aid from Kyiv.

A subpoena could compel the whistleblower to cooperate with anything from written questions to a public hearing that would expose his identity, which is an open secret in Washington, D.C. On Wednesday, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), mentioned Ciaramella's name publicly while speaking at a meeting of the House Judiciary Committee on impeachment. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Donald Trump, Jr. and several others have named Ciaramella as well, but most mainstream media outlets and politicians are protecting his anonymity.  One source said the legal team is monitoring lawmakers' public statements about their client.

The offer for the whistleblower to answer written questions from senators still stands for the upcoming trial, the people familiar said.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are expected to meet to negotiate the scope of the trial, including its length and whether witnesses will testify. The Senate Intelligence Committee has quietly interviewed witnesses involved in the handling of the whistleblower complaint, which detailed Trump's conduct on a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, CNN reports.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr has publicly stated that the committee's focus is on "process" and not the content of the complaint itself. Burr has consistently said he wants to hear from the whistleblower for his panel's investigation.

"The House managers would come over and make their argument. The President's lawyers would then respond. And at that point, the Senate has two choices: It could go down the path of calling witnesses and basically having another trial. Or it could decide — and again, 51 senators could make that decision — that they've heard enough and believe they know what would happen and could move on the two articles of impeachment sent over to us from the House," McConnell told reporters.

The whistleblower's attorneys have ruled out an in-person interview in any context.

"These calls to identify the whistleblower and have them be a witness, I find outrageous and irresponsible. There is no earthly reason that the whistleblower needs to participate at this time because all he/she did was report wrongdoing. If there's an investigation as a result of this complaint, the investigation itself reveals whether or not the complaint was valid," Sen. Angus King, an independent and a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told CNN in November.

"If a person's walking by a house and sees flames coming out of the upper story windows and calls the fire department, the fire department determines whether there's a fire and then commences to fight it. It makes a call is irrelevant," he added.

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