Nixon-era whistleblower weighs in on Trump impeachment inquiry process
OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo began a four-nation European tour Tuesday, but he couldn't escape questions about the impeachment inquiry.
Secretary Pompeo and the Trump administration dialed up the rhetoric as House Democrats pressed on with requests for State departments to procure documents and appear on Capitol Hill for depositions later this week.
U.S. officials confirmed Pompeo had been listening in on the July 25th phone-call when President Trump asked Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate potential 2020 Democratic rival Joe Biden.
Pompeo sent a letter Tuesday to House Democrats, accusing them of trying to "intimidate, bully, & treat improperly the distinguished professionals of the Department of State." He said that five state department officials would not be appearing at hearings scheduled by the House committees, because the officials had not been subpoenaed and were not given sufficient time to prepare for any testimony or secure legal counsel.
House and Senate committee aides are scheduled to meet with the State Department's Inspector General on Capitol Hill Wednesday.
On Thursday, former Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker is scheduled to have an interview. Volker faces allegations he arranged meetings between President Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Ukraine's President Zelenskiy.
Giuliani has been subpoenaed and hired a former Watergate prosecutor.
White House assistant to the President Peter Navarro accused Democrats of trying to oust the president for purely political reasons.
"This is nothing less than an attempted coup d'etat, and end run around the ballot box," said Navarro.
President Trump echoed that in a tweet, calling the impeachment proceedings "a COUP....intended to take away the Power of the People, their VOTE, their Freedoms, their Second Amendment, Religion, Military, Border Wall, and their God-given rights as a Citizen of The United States of America!"
A coup is usually defined as a sudden, violent and illegal seizure of government power. The impeachment process is laid out in the U.S. Constitution.
President Trump also wrote in a separate tweet, "Why aren't we entitled to interview & learn everything about the Whistleblower?"
Some people are worried about retaliation against the whistleblower, who has remained anonymous so far.
California Senator Kamala Harris renewed her request that Twitter and CEO Jack Dorsey suspend President Trump's account, saying Tuesday in a tweet "hey @jack, time to do something about this."
As one of the nation's most famous whistleblowers, Daniel Ellsberg understands the risks of retaliation.
Ellsberg is the former Nixon administration staff member who became a whistleblower when he released the secret Pentagon Papers that ended the Vietnam War. Ellsberg says whistleblowers pay a high price in coming forward.
"Individuals who go up against the President of the United States know they can't be well protected by agencies under the president, whether its CIA or FBI or anybody," said Ellsberg.
Ellsberg says that members of the administration should appear before Congress.
"We cannot have a democratic system if the President is able without appeal, without any other challenge, to control what Congress knows about what he's done,' said Ellsberg.
Some Republicans such as Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa publicly stated government whistleblowers should be heard and protected.
Ellsberg says members of Congress have a duty to the Constitution.
"To obey the Constitution and do what the Constitution obliges them to do. And that is to judge fairly, truthfully, on the facts here, find them out and to act patriotically and conscientiously on those. This president certainly under all conditions, deserves a fair trial," said Ellsberg, "They should be fair. The people who say, let's not rush this. Let's get the facts fairly. I certainly agree with that. It certainly would be bad for our democracy to allow the impression that there was a rush to judgment here."