Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is a longtime supporter of whistleblowers.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is a longtime supporter of whistleblowers. Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP, Pool

Grassley Deviates From Other Senate Republicans and Supports Ukraine Whistleblower

Senator says he believes the whistleblower followed the law and should be protected.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, a long-time whistleblower protection advocate, broke ranks with some of his Republican colleagues on Tuesday and sided with the whistleblower of the now-infamous July call between President Trump and the Ukrainian president.

“This person appears to have followed the whistleblower protection laws and ought to be heard out and protected,” Grassley said in a press release. “We should always work to respect whistleblowers’ requests for confidentiality. No one should be making judgments or pronouncements without hearing from the whistleblower first and carefully following up on the facts." 

Several Republicans, such as Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Bill Cassidy, R-La.; and Tim Scott, R-S.C., have questioned the whistleblower’s credibility, saying the allegations were based on hearsay. Also, Trump tweeted on Monday that the “2ND HAND description of the call is a fraud” and claimed the whistleblower laws were changed just before the whistleblower submitted his or her report. 

Grassley, however, said that there are no legal distinctions between first and second-hand knowledge for whistleblowers. “Complaints based on second-hand information should not be rejected out of hand, but they do require additional leg work to get at the facts and evaluate the claim’s credibility," he wrote. 

The day before his announcement, Grassley and Sens. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, wrote to Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson to inquire about any changes to the law, noting they were “not aware of any” that would require “first-hand information in order for the complaint to be accepted as credible or receive legal protections.” 

The Intelligence Community Inspector General’s office issued a statement to clarify that the complaint appears credible and was based on some first-hand knowledge. The statement also said, “although the form requests information about whether the complainant possesses first-hand knowledge...there is no such requirement set forth in the statute.”  

Grassley is the most senior Republican senator and has made whistleblower protections a cornerstone of his career.