One of the attorneys representing the whistleblower whose complaint led to the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump called for Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) to resign from the chamber’s Whistleblower Protection Caucus, citing her baseless incendiary tweet about both his client and witness Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman.
“Senator [Marsha Blackburn] should resign from Senate Whistleblower Caucus,” attorney Mark Zaid said Thursday. “Her comments are completely contrary to everything that Caucus is supposed to stand for and protect.”
Senator @MarshaBlackburn should resign from Senate #Whistleblower Caucus. Her comments are completely contrary to everything that Caucus is supposed to stand for and protect.#ProtectTheWhistleblower https://t.co/hKdeSENtLu
— Mark S. Zaid (@MarkSZaidEsq) December 26, 2019
“Why is Sen @MarshaBlackburn still member given her hostility towards #WBers?” he asked in a separate tweet.
Zaid, who has spent decades in Washington representing government employees against federal agencies, was specifically referencing comments Blackburn made last month regarding the whistleblower and Vindman.
“Vindictive Vindman is the ‘whistleblower’s’ handler,” Blackburn tweeted just days after Vindman, the top Ukraine advisor on the National Security Council, publicly testified that he was so disturbed after hearing Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky that he immediately reported the call to the council’s top lawyer, John Eisenberg.
Vindictive Vindman is the “whistleblower’s” handler.
— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) November 22, 2019
Blackburn was playing into the nonsensical conspiracy theory that Vindman — born in Ukraine before moving to the U.S. at age three and eventually receiving a Purple Heart for his service in Iraq – was not loyal to the United States. Republican House attorney Steve Castor was also criticized for spending a considerable amount of time questioning Vindman’s loyalty during his public testimony.
The Whistleblower Protection Caucus is a bipartisan group of 15 Senators formed in 2015 to advocate for legislation protecting whistleblowers and to train federal offices to accommodate their whistleblowers better and avoid retaliation cases. Blackburn joined the caucus, chaired by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), earlier this year.
Though more than a month old, Blackburn’s comments received renewed attention Wednesday in a Washington Post report highlighting a “climate of mistrust and threats” against those willing to risk their careers by reporting possible wrongdoing at the highest levels of government.
According to the report, the whistleblower who filed the initial complaint against Trump is sometimes accompanied by armed guards.
“The CIA analyst who triggered the impeachment inquiry continues to work on issues relating to Russia and Ukraine, but when threats against him spike — often seemingly spurred by presidential tweets — he is driven to and from work by armed security officers,” the report said.
Attorney David Colapinto, co-founder and General Counsel of the National Whistleblower Center, also questioned how Blackburn’s comments comport with her remaining in the caucus.
Senator @MarshaBlackburn’s notorious “Vindictive Vindman” tweet is cited in this @washingtonpost article on the climate of threats against #whistleblowers. Still wondering, how does that tweet square with the Senator’s membership in the Senate #Whistleblower Protection Caucus? https://t.co/nyvsUGzKg2
— David Colapinto (@dcolapinto) December 26, 2019
[image via YouTube screengrab]