Key GOP Senator breaks with Trump on whistleblower

Going against the arguments of a number of Republicans, including President Donald Trump, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) said Tuesday that a whistleblower from inside the U.S. Intelligence Community should not be attacked, and had followed proper procedures in raising questions about a phone call between the President and the leader of Ukraine.

"This person appears to have followed the whistleblower protection laws and ought to be heard out and protected," Grassley said in a written statement.

Long a champion of whistleblowers, Grassley also rejected assertions by GOP lawmakers and the President over whether the person knew of certain information first-hand or not.

"When it comes to whether someone qualifies as a whistleblower, the distinctions being drawn between first- and second-hand knowledge aren’t legal ones," Grassley added.

Grassley also warned the news media against efforts to uncover the identity of the whistleblower.

"Any further media reports on the whistleblower’s identity don’t serve the public interest — even if the conflict sells more papers or attracts clicks," Grassley added, saying the whistleblower deserves confidentiality.

That runs against what President Trump has been telling reporters.

"Well, we're trying to find out about a whistleblower - when you have a whistleblower that reports things that were incorrect," Mr. Trump said on Monday at the White House.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of State blasted Democrats on Tuesday morning, saying in a letter that Democrats were trying to intimidate State Department workers who have been asked to give depositions as part of the House investigation.

"I’m concerned with aspects of the Committee’s request," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Democrats in a letter, as Pompeo said scheduled depositions for current and former diplomatic officials were 'not feasible.'

"Let me be clear," Pompeo tweeted, "I will not tolerate such tactics."

Three different committees in the U.S. House want depositions next week with five current and former State Department officials.

That includes Kurt Volker, a U.S. envoy to Ukraine, who resigned from his post last week.

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