The Ukraine whistleblower at the center of the House Democratic impeachment inquiry wants to testify to Congress in writing instead of appearing in person, Fox News has confirmed.
The Wall Street Journal first reported that lawyers for the anonymous CIA officer have asked lawmakers if the whistleblower could submit testimony in writing, but the House and Senate Intelligence Committees have not yet responded.
The request comes amid Democrats' desire to protect the identity of the whistleblower, along with worries over safety and media scrutiny. President Trump and Republicans believe the president should have a right to confront his accuser, and have also cited new reports indicating the whistleblower could have partisan motives. His attorneys have acknowledged he is a registered Democrat who has worked with at least one 2020 candidate. On Thursday, reports surfaced that the candidate was Joe Biden.
Democrats formally launched an impeachment inquiry after the anonymous whistleblower filed a complaint about President Trump pressing Ukrainian officials this summer to investigate 2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s business activities in Ukraine.
Other interviews are being conducted on Capitol Hill, as Democrats intensify their impeachment inquiry: Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. envoy to Kiev, is scheduled to sit for a transcribed interview with lawmakers and staff on Friday.
Trump has pushed for information on the identity of the Ukraine whistleblower. In recent tweets, the president has asked, “why aren’t we entitled to interview & learn everything about the Whistleblower, and also the person who gave all of the false information to him.”
During a rally in Minnesota on Thursday night, Trump cited a new report in The Washington Examiner that the whistleblower at the center of Democrats' impeachment push had worked with Biden. The whistleblower's anti-Trump attorney, Mark Zaid, acknowledged earlier in the week that his client had "contact" with current presidential contenders "from both parties."
Fox News recently reported of the possibility that a secret session between the whistleblower and lawmakers could be held away from the U.S. Capitol complex. “Bringing someone up here [to Capitol Hill] is tough,” said one congressional source who asked to not be identified.
It’s unclear where lawmakers could hold such a forum with the whistleblower. A secure facility exists on Capitol Hill, as well as in various quarters of government – ranging from the Department of Justice to the intelligence community.
Earlier this week, the whistleblower’s attorneys said, “The whistleblower is not the story. To date, virtually every substantive allegation has been confirmed by other sources. For that reason the identity of the whistleblower is irrelevant."
Fox News’ Griff Jenkins, Gregg Re and Chad Pergram contributed to this report.