NOEL KING, HOST:
The whistleblower whose complaint prompted the impeachment inquiry into President Trump is making Republicans an offer. This person, who is still anonymous, is willing to answer written questions from House Republicans. Meanwhile, President Trump is calling for the whistleblower's identity to be exposed. NPR's Bobby Allyn has been reporting on all of this. He's in the studio now. Hey, Bobby.
BOBBY ALLYN, BYLINE: Hey, Noel.
KING: OK, so let's start with the offer. What is on the table here?
ALLYN: OK, so I talked to Mark Zaid. He represents the whistleblower. And he told me that the whistleblower has agreed to answer questions from Republicans. Now, if you've been following along very closely, you know that this is not the first time the offer has been extended. Written testimony from the whistleblower was on the table once before, but what's really different this time is the questions and answers wouldn't have to involve Democrats, who, of course, control the committees that are leading the investigation. So this is a direct channel of communication now open to Republicans. And the lawyer says the whistleblower will answer these questions under oath - so under penalty of perjury - just as long as the individual's identity is not in danger of being revealed.
KING: OK, this is a really interesting offer. Does it seem like Republicans are going to take the whistleblower up on it?
ALLYN: So the offer has been sent to Representative Devin Nunes. He's the ranking Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee. And we haven't yet heard from his office, but House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy suggested on CBS's "Face The Nation" yesterday that written testimony might not satisfy Republicans.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FACE THE NATION")
KEVIN MCCARTHY: When you're talking about the removal of the president of the United States, undoing democracy, undoing what the American public had voted for, I think that individual should come before the committee. He could come down to the basement, but he needs to answer the questions.
ALLYN: And this is a good place to note that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has said that investigators might not need to hear from the whistleblower - because remember, the whistleblower's account was a secondhand account. And they now have heard from people who were on the call. So the whistleblower is no longer critical to the investigation, at least according to Schiff.
KING: So in the meantime, amid all of this, President Trump still really wants to know who this person is. Yesterday, he said, quote, "The whistleblower should be revealed because the whistleblower gave false stories," end quote. There are some things standing in the way of this, though, including federal law, right?
ALLYN: Yeah, that's right. So federal law does protect the whistleblower's identity. That's kind of the point of the whistleblower law that, you know, is allowing this whistleblower to come forward anonymously. But that has not stopped a lot of speculation, especially on conservative media. Rush Limbaugh, online conservative publications and elsewhere, you know, really trying to out this individual. An individual's name has been out there. It's not been confirmed anywhere. And the whistleblower's lawyers have not confirmed any of these reports. They also haven't denied any of the reports.
But here's what we do know - that this whistleblower is from the intelligence community. And that's basically it. Trump is trying to change that, though. Trump really wants this person's name to be outed. In fact, Trump said yesterday to reporters that if the media reveals who this whistleblower is, it would be, quote, "a public service." So I called up Yale law professor Harold Koh. He was the State Department's legal adviser during the Obama administration. And he described the president encouraging people to out the whistleblower as disgusting.
HAROLD KOH: If the net result of passing the Whistleblower Protection Act is that you're singling somebody out for punishment, retaliation and persecution, then Congress ought to take action to impose penalties on those people who do those kinds of things.
ALLYN: So as a country, we find ourselves in a unique position right now, right? So many Republicans are trying to unmask this individual in order to challenge the whistleblower's motivations. At the same time, we've had a parade of witnesses who have corroborated much of the whistleblower's account of President Trump's July 25 call with Ukraine's president - a call, I will say, that the president yesterday described as quote, "perfecto."
KING: NPR's Bobby Allyn. Thanks, Bobby.
ALLYN: Thank you.
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