Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., is one of the lawmakers who released the guide.

Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., is one of the lawmakers who released the guide. Evan Vucci/AP

A Guide for Breaking Free From Trump’s 'Muzzle' on Federal Employees

Democratic Reps. Beyer and Lieu stress whistleblower resources such as IG hotlines.

Charging that President Trump has “strapped a muzzle on federal agencies and attacked legitimate whistleblowers,” two House Democrats on Thursday unveiled a “resource guide for federal employees who wish to break the administration’s blackout on federal employees.”

Reps. Don Beyer, D-Va., and Ted Lieu, D-Calif., said the kit titled “Speaking Truth to Power” is a reminder to federal employees who see themselves as whistleblowers of how to execute “safe and responsible disclosure of information” to inspectors general and reporters. It follows reports of Trump transition team leaders barring agency employees from speaking to the press or releasing unauthorized statements.

“From Day 1, the Trump administration and its allies in Congress have treated the federal workforce like a punching bag, all while issuing hostile threats to whistleblowers and dissenters,” Beyer said. “In this age of gag orders and alternative facts, it’s important that we provide federal employees tools to ensure transparency.”

Lieu added, “We believe the American people have a right to know how their government works. The Trump administration has strapped a muzzle on federal agencies and attacked legitimate whistleblowers. Should federal employees wish to break that silence, we want this to be a resource for the safe and responsible disclosure of information." 

The reminders and pleas to the Trump team are bipartisan. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, long an advocate for whistleblowers, wrote Trump on Feb. 8 with a similar message. “Whistleblowers can be instrumental in helping to ‘drain the swamp’ in Washington by shedding light on fraud, waste and abuse within the bureaucracy,” said Grassley, who founded the Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus.

Grassley asked Trump to “hold a White House Rose Garden ceremony to honor the work of whistleblowers, and send a clear message that misconduct in the bureaucracy and reprisal for those who seek to correct it will not be tolerated.”