President Donald Trump shared the name of the alleged whistleblower who filed a complaint against him that ultimately led to his impeachment by the House of Representatives with his 68 million Twitter followers. It all took place late Friday night when just before midnight Trump retweeted a post from @Surfermom77 that outright named the alleged whistleblower and claimed he had committed perjury.
The account that Trump retweeted supposedly belonged to a woman named Sophia from California who used to describe herself as a “100% Trump supporter.” There are several hints the account was automated though, including the heavy use of stock photographs. On Sunday, the account had disappeared.
Although Trump retweeted the post Friday night, by Saturday morning it was no longer visible in his Twitter feed, leading many to speculate that the president had removed it. But then it was revealed that a glitch on Twitter essentially hid that retweet along with others. Millions of accounts—and not just Trump’s—were affected by this glitch.
The retweet with the alleged identity of the whistleblower came a day after the president retweeted a post from an account associated with his reelection campaign that contained a link to a Washington Times article that identified the alleged whistleblower in the headline.
Trump has written lots of tweets about the whistleblower whose August complaint regarding Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which he pushed for Kyiv to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden triggered the congressional inquiry that led to the president’s impeachment. But this week marked the first time that he published anything on his Twitter timeline that directly named the alleged person. Most mainstream outlets have not published the alleged identity of the whistleblower although many have identified the person as a Central Intelligence Agency officer. In contrast, several right-wing outlets and Trump allies, including his son Donald Trump Jr., have publicly named the alleged whistleblower.
Democrats and attorneys for the whistleblower have cautioned that the person’s safety could be at risk if they are publicly identified and administration officials have allegedly cautioned Trump against publicizing the name. Andrew Bakaj, one of the whistleblower’s attorneys, lamented Saturday that there was a “deafening” silence from Sen. Chuck Grassley, who in the past has championed the rights of whistleblowers. Bakaj was hardly alone in criticizing the president’s actions. Former federal prosecutor Christopher Alberto wrote that by publicizing the name, Trump was carrying out “a direct attack on our constitutional republic & national security.” Carrie Cordero, a national security lawyer and CNN analyst, pointed out on Twitter that “just a few short years ago it would have been unthinkable for an American president to flout the law & intentionally endanger an intelligence community professional.”