Federal Obstruction of Justice Statute Prevents the Release of the Whistleblower’s Identity

Today, the whistleblower rights law firm of Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto requested Attorney General William Barr to open a criminal investigation concerning any leaks to the public of the identity of the whistleblower who is responsible for reporting the so-called Ukrainian “quid pro quo,” or bribery matter, to the Office of Inspector General.

As outlined in the letter, the attorneys expressed concern over the “chilling effect” the release of the whistleblower’s identity will have on other potential confidential informants in a host of criminal matters. The attorneys directed the Attorney General’s attention to a particular obstruction of justice law explicitly designed to protect whistleblowers.

As explained in their letter, this whistleblower law was crafted to make interference with the employment or livelihood of a whistleblower a serious criminal offense, subjecting “any person” who violates the law to a ten-year prison sentence. Given the importance of protecting the identity of intelligence community whistleblowers, for them to perform their critical job duties, the attorneys expressed a concern that the potential release of the whistleblower’s identity constituted a serious offense that justified opening an immediate criminal investigation.

According to the letter signed by experienced whistleblower attorneys Stephen M. Kohn, Michael D. Kohn, and David K. Colapinto:

“This statute (18 U.S.C. § 1513(e)) makes clear that the intelligence community whistleblower who filed a valid concern with the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community would be fully protected under this law, and any person who retaliates against this whistleblower would be guilty of a serious felony under federal law.” 

“Given the high-profile nature of this case, and the ‘chilling effect’ the disclosure of the whistleblower’s identity will have on other potential confidential informants to the United States, we request that you immediately open a criminal obstruction of justice investigation to root out who is responsible for any potential leak of the identity of the whistleblower.”

The letter also explained that violating this criminal whistleblower law would also constitute “high crimes and misdemeanors” under the U.S. Constitution.

A copy of the letter is attached here: URGENT MATTER – Letter to Attorney General William Barr

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