Now that the impeachment of President Trump and Senate trial have come to a close, it is time for those of us who fight for the rights of whistleblowers to take stock. Given the turbulent events of the past few months, how can the National Whistleblower Center ensure that future would-be whistleblowers know that they will be supported if they step forward to hold wrongdoers accountable?
On the bright side, we have had many teachable moments that serve as a foundation for building a movement for new whistleblower protections and a stronger democracy. NWC has appeared regularly in the media, at conferences and in Congress in the past several months to defend the anonymous whistleblower’s rights to confidentiality and to explain why protecting whistleblowers is critical to democracy and the rule of law. We have communicated important nuances of whistleblower protection, such as the value of second-hand evidence and the reasons why investigators do not reject whistleblower evidence based on speculation about motive.
That said, for the first time in U.S. history, a President openly threatened the safety of a whistleblower and called for the exposure of the whistleblower’s confidential identity. Prominent allies in Congress and in the media joined this campaign of intimidation and retaliation. Although such retaliation and witness intimidation may not be prosecutable, it is nonetheless bad for our democracy.