An online fundraiser has garnered more than $145,000 to cover potential legal costs for the whistleblower who filed the complaint that now has President Donald Trump as the subject of an impeachment inquiry.
"The whistleblower took a great personal risk to defend our democracy, and did not do this for politics or personal gain. We need to have the whistleblower’s back," says the GoFundMe post by Whistleblower Aid, a group that says it provides lawful alternatives to leaking information.
In the complaint that accuses the Trump administration of a wide-ranging cover-up, the whistleblower says White House officials took extraordinary steps to "lock down" information about Trump's summertime phone call with the president of Ukraine, even moving the transcript to a secret computer system.
Accusations of efforts to pressure the leader of a foreign nation to dig for dirt on a potential rival of Trump's reelection campaign next year are now at the heart of the House impeachment inquiry.
The nine-page document, released Thursday, provides substantial new details about the circumstances of the phone call in which Trump repeatedly spoke of how much the U.S. had aided Ukraine, and encouraged new President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to help investigate political rival Joe Biden and his son.
"In the days following the phone call, I learned from multiple U.S. officials that senior White House officials had intervened to 'lock down' all the records of the phone call, especially the official word-for-word transcript of the call that was produced as is customary by the White House situation room," the complaint says.
In response, Trump on Thursday threatened "the person" who he said gave information to the whistleblower as he spoke at a private event in New York with staff from the U.S. mission to the United Nations.
"Who's the person who gave the whistleblower the information? Because that's close to a spy," Trump said in audio posted by The Los Angeles Times. "You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now."
Trump has also accused the whistleblower of being partisan.
Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, told the House Intelligence Committee during his testimony Thursday that the whistleblower "did the right thing" by coming forward.
Whistleblower Aid said the whistleblower must be allowed to speak to members of Congress anonymously.
"The Department of Justice has incorrectly asserted that this whistleblower doesn’t deserve legal protections. This brave public servant could face retaliation and needs your support," the fundraiser reads. It also indicates donations will only be accepted from U.S. citizens.
Whistleblower Aid says on its website that it was founded by John Napier Tye, a whistleblower "who used lawful channels to publicize alleged unconstitutional activity by the National Security Agency during the Obama administration."