Democrats weigh masking whistleblower's identity in potential Hill testimony

Trump has accused the whistleblower of spying and warned of "consequences."

October 8, 2019, 12:11 PM

House lawmakers are considering extraordinary lengths to mask the identity of a whistleblower whose complaint about President Donald Trump's dealings with Ukraine triggered an impeachment inquiry, including possibly obscuring the person's voice or appearance during the person's testimony, according to sources familiar with the discussions.

Trump has demanded to know the identity of the whistleblower, who is protected by law against retaliation, insisting that he has the right to face his accuser.

"Like every American, I deserve to meet my accuser, especially when this accuser, the so-called "Whistleblower," represented a perfect conversation with a foreign leader in a totally inaccurate and fraudulent way," Trump tweeted late last month after the complaint surfaced.

Lawmakers have determined that the upcoming interview would not take place on Capitol Hill. The interview would happen at another government location, specifically designed to handle classified briefings.

But sources familiar with the discussions tell ABC News that Democrats have discussed other ways to mask the official's identity, including obscuring the person's voice and appearance. The concern, sources say, is that congressional Republicans close to the president could seek to reveal their identity.

The Washington Post first reported the discussions.

They also are discussing the possibility of tasking select congressional staff to handle the briefing, allowing that small group to brief lawmakers at a later date.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

The seven-page complaint alleged that Trump pushed a foreign power to investigate his political rival, Joe Biden, and Biden's son, Hunter, and that unnamed senior White House officials then tried to "lock down" all records of the phone call.

"This set of actions underscored to me that White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call," the first whistleblower stated, in a complaint filed Aug. 12.

The law protects whistleblowers from being retaliated against. But Trump has accused the whistleblower, identified as an intelligence official, of being a spy.

"Was this person SPYING on the U.S. President? Big Consequences!" Trump tweeted.

The intelligence community's inspector general says the complaint was processed in accordance with the law.

ABC News' Anne Flaherty contributed to this report.

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