On ABC’s “The View” Thursday, host Sunny Hostin falsely claimed it is a federal crime to name or out a whistleblower while interviewing guests Donald Trump Jr. and former Fox News contributor Kimberly Guilfoyle.
“You’re a lawyer, we know each other, you worked for a prosecutor,” Hostin said to Guilfoyle. “I mean, did you advise your boyfriend that it is a federal crime to out a whistleblower?”
But according to experts, @DonaldJTrumpJr is right!
— Trump War Room (Text TRUMP to 88022) (@TrumpWarRoom) November 7, 2019
“Well it’s not a federal crime. It’s only a federal crime for the IG to do it, that’s in the statute,” Trump Jr. said.
After this segment aired, Trump Jr. tweeted the statute that shows outing a whistleblower is only a crime for the Inspector General, not for a member of the media or a private citizen.
The hosts of The View are lying about the whistleblower statute.
Here's the statute that proves it's only a crime for the IG to release the name of the whistleblower. Totally legitimate & legal for members of the media & private citizens to name him.https://t.co/M2DefCURRF
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) November 7, 2019
Trump Jr. is correct. The federal whistleblower statute requires only the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) to keep a whistleblower’s identity confidential, unless the ICIG determines it necessary to disclose.
No other government official is required to protect the anonymity of a whistleblower. There is no such statute that exists.
According to Sean Davis of The Federalist, “Such a requirement would be a blatant violation of the First Amendment as it would be an unconstitutional prior restraint on the freedom of speech and the press.”
The whistleblower statute only protects punishment by other government officials for blowing the whistle. This includes demotions, firings, or punishments of that nature.
Trump Jr. is well within his right to name the anti-Trump whistleblower.
That’s not stopping Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., from saying he wants to pass legislation to make what Trump Jr. did illegal.
“In the future, you will go to jail if you out a whistleblower. Legislation coming,” Swalwell tweeted.
In the future, you will go to jail if you out a whistleblower. Legislation coming.
— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) November 7, 2019
Swalwell’s tweet infers that Trump Jr. tweeting out the whistleblowers name is legal, because it is.