Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Grassley breaks with Senate Republicans and President Trump by supporting impeachment whistleblower

Sen. Chuck Grassley
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, broke with other congressional Republicans this week by defending the whistleblower who prompted the impeachment investigation of President Trump. The president "has sought to delegitimize the report, saying it should not have been filed because much of it is based on second-hand information rather than the whistleblower's direct knowledge of events," notes Robin Opsahl of the Des Moines Register.

In a press release Tuesday, Grassley said that protections for whistleblowers don't depend on how the person got the information they've reported. He acknowledged that complaints based on second-hand information "do require additional leg work to get at the facts and evaluate the claim’s credibility," Opsahl reports.

Grassley has been at odds with Trump over the recent Renewable Fuel Standard dust-up, a major issue in Iowa, and the president's failure to deliver a promised deal to settle disputes over ethanol. But he has also been a long-time defender of whistleblowers, "beginning in 1986 when he authored amendments to the False Claims Act encouraging whistleblowers to come forward with reports of fraud and abuse," Opsahl reports.

Grassley called for the public to respect the whistleblower's confidentiality and said media reports with revealing details about their identity "don't serve the public interest". Grassley also criticized Democrats for moving to impeach Trump without waiting for more evidence, and said they were motivated by an inability to accept Trump's election rather than evidence of wrongdoing, Opsahl reports.

Iowa is proving a source of pressure for Trump on more than one front. Grassley's constituents—and Corn Belt voters in other states—have been agitated over the RFS dispute, which threatens political consequences for the president's reelection bid, David Lynch reports for The Washington Post. Trump has tried to assuage corn growers' frustrations by promising that Japan will buy enough corn to make up for the loss of China as a customer, but Japan doesn't need that much corn, The Wall Street Journal reports.

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