CNN's Toobin: Yes, Unmasking A Whistleblower Is Illegal, It's Harassment | Video | RealClearPolitics

CNN's Toobin: Yes, Unmasking A Whistleblower Is Illegal, It's Harassment


President Donald Trump and his allies are ramping up efforts to unmask the anonymous Ukraine whistleblower. CNN's Jeffrey Toobin and Laura Coates explain why whistleblower protections exist and what it means to have their identities revealed.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There have been stories written about a certain individual, a male, and they say he's the whistle-blower. If he's the whistle-blower, he has no credibility. Because he's a Brennan guy; he's a Susan Rice guy; he's an Obama guy. And he hates Trump.

CAMEROTA: Hmm. Well, because the whistle-blower's identity is not public, he can say whatever he wants about the whistle-blower.

BERMAN: But there's no proof of any of that. I mean, what he just said is nonsense. There's honestly not a shred of evidence --

CAMEROTA: No reason to believe any of that is true.

BERMAN: -- any of that is true. And it's more than that, which is the president is asking to out a whistle-blower. Which in and of itself is something that should raise eyebrows.

CAMEROTA: Let's check in with our guests. Joining us now is CNN chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, and CNN legal analyst Laura Coates. Great to have both of you.

Jeffrey, is unmasking the whistle-blower intentionally illegal?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, it's illegal. I mean, this is -- there's a Whistle-blower Protection Act. If this were a private company, the board would fire the CEO for behaving this way towards a whistle-blower. I mean, this is -- the whole whistle-blower idea is that they should have protections, anonymity, much less be attacked by the president of the United States.

And here, the whistle-blower is -- is factually irrelevant. Because the whistle-blower just said from the beginning, I have secondhand information. Go talk to the people who have firsthand. That's what's been done. So, I mean, this is just pure harassment...

CAMEROTA: I mean, what do you -- the fact that he is -- well, he's not breaking the law by asking for the identity to be revealed. He would break the law if he revealed the identity, right?

TOOBIN: Yes, although, harassment, which I think this clearly is, is illegal.

But, you know, this is one of the tests of our democracy under Donald Trump. That, you know, he has violated so many norms. He has violated so many laws like this one, that, you know, we -- you know, we have to decide what our priorities are.

I mean, you know, so many -- he lies so much and tells -- and says so many crazy things. You know, he tweeted over the weekend that the Republicans should put out their own transcripts of the hearings that are going on in private now. I mean, there are official court reporters there. I mean, there's not going to be more than one transcript. There's no question about the legality of the transcripts.

I mean, you know, crazy stuff like that, we've just sort of learned to discount that, oh, well, you know, that's just Trump talking.

CAMEROTA: But this one's a law.

TOOBIN: But I think that has a cost. The whistle-blower thing has a -- and also, there's a human being there who was under a great deal of threat.

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