House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., gave strict orders to President Trump not to “intimidate” the whistleblower who sparked the House impeachment inquiry into the president – telling Trump that he was in her “wheelhouse” if he attempted to go after the anonymous source.
“I will make sure he does not intimidate the whistleblower,” Pelosi said during an interview on CBS’ “Face The Nation.” “I told the president you’re in my wheelhouse when you come after the whistleblower.”
Pelosi’s words come as the House Intelligence Committee is in the midst of public hearings with officials about Trump’s now infamous July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky where he asked him to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, over their business dealings in the eastern European nation.
Democrats argue that there is evidence of “quid pro quo” during the phone call and that Trump made the release of military aid to Ukraine contingent on Kiev investigating Biden – one of the president’s main 2020 political challengers – and his son. Hunter Biden was on the board of Ukrainian natural gas firm, Burisma Holdings, which in 2015 was subject to an investigation by Ukrainian officials.
The whistleblower complaint, which concerned the purported “quid pro quo” Trump laid out in the phone call, sparked the impeachment inquiry and the president has since been highly critical of the unnamed person – questioning the whistleblower’s credibility and asking for the disclosure of the person’s name.
Earlier this month, Trump also called on the media to find out and disseminate the name of the whistleblower – prompting the person’s lawyers to send a cease-and-desist letter to the White House.
Pelosi said it was of utmost importance to protect the whistleblower’s identity given Trump’s attacks.
“This is really important, especially when it comes to intelligence, that someone who would be courageous enough to point out truth to power and then through the filter of a Trump-appointed inspector general who found it of urgent concern and then took it to the next steps,” she said.
Pelosi added that if Trump wanted to present his case, he should come before House lawmakers.
“The president could come right before the committee and talk, speak all the truth that he wants if he wants. He has every opportunity to present his case.”
Pelosi’s comments also come just days after Trump was accused by critics of intimidating former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch during her testimony on Friday when he sent out a disparaging tweet.
“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go?” Trump tweeted.
Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him. It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2019
Democrats have accused Trump of “witness intimidation” with his tweet, and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff read the tweet to Yovanovitch during her testimony and asked her to respond.
“The president in real-time is attacking you,” Schiff said. “What effect do you think that has on other witnesses’ willingness to come forward and expose wrongdoing?”
“It’s very intimidating,” Yovanovitch answered.
Asked by a reporter if Trump thought his tweets could be intimidating, he answered, “I don’t think so at all.”
“I have the right to speak. I have freedom of speech just like other people do,” he said.