Facebook said Friday that it will remove mentions that name the whistleblower who filed a complaint over President Donald Trump’s July 25 phone call with the president of Ukraine, triggering the current impeachment inquiry.
“Any mention of the potential whistleblower’s name violates our coordinating harm policy, which prohibits content ‘outing of witness, informant, or activist,’ ” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “We are removing any and all mentions of the potential whistleblower’s name and will revisit this decision should their name be widely published in the media or used by public figures in debate.”
Trump and his allies have attacked the whistleblower and called for that person to come forward, while Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has suggested that he “probably will” disclose the person’s identity. Some right-leaning news outlets have cited a name they say is the whistleblower. That person’s identity was not disclosed by intelligence officials because of federal laws designed to detect whistleblowers from retaliation.
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But the whistleblower’s attorneys have said that such disclosure poses a threat to their client, and they have urged news outlets to refrain from doing so. The Washington Post and the New York Times have said that they are refraining from naming the whistleblower, and other mainstream news outlets also have not made such disclosures.
This week, one of the attorneys, Andrew Bakaj, wrote to the White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, to complain that Trump’s rhetoric and actions were putting his client in physical danger.
“I am writing to respectfully request that you counsel your client on the legal and ethical peril in which he is placing himself should anyone be physically harmed as a result of his, or his surrogates’, behavior,” he wrote.
According to the Washington Post, Facebook on Wednesday removed ads that named someone identified as the whistleblower. They had been viewed several hundred thousand times before they were taken down, the Post reported.
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