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Trump faces firestorm after identifying alleged whistleblower

This article is more than 12 months old

WASHINGTON : Mr Donald Trump faced calls from his own party to show more restraint on Twitter as the White House faced a storm of outrage on Sunday over the US President revealing the name of a man widely thought to be the whistleblower who triggered his impeachment.

Mr Trump has faced growing criticism since retweeting an attack that included the name of the reported Central Intelligence Agency staff member at the heart of the Ukraine scandal - an act that could violate the whistleblower's guaranteed anonymity under the law.

"If the President would tweet a little bit less, it wouldn't cause brain damage. But the President does not have to take my advice, nor do I expect him to," Republican Senator John Kennedy, a key Trump ally, told Fox News Sunday.

Mr Trump is ending this year as the third president in US history to be impeached after pressuring Ukraine to investigate Mr Joe Biden, a rival in his 2020 re-election bid.

The historic rebuke by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives for abuse of office and obstruction of Congress is unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled Senate in a trial expected to begin in January.

But Mr Trump has appeared increasingly frustrated that no date has been set for the trial amid a partisan stand-off over its rules.

He spent much of Friday last week amplifying pro-Trump and anti-Democrat tweets from suspicious-looking Twitter accounts at the start of what would become a weekend-long rant against the impeachment process.

The incendiary whistleblower retweet was no longer visible in the President's timeline by Saturday morning, although it was not clear who had removed it.

Political action group The Democratic Coalition tweeted on Sunday that "while Trump has repeatedly backed efforts to unmask the whistleblower, his retweet marks the first time he has directly sent the alleged name to his 68 million followers".

Mr Noah Bookbinder, who heads Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, posted that "the President using his power and position to expose and implicitly threaten the Ukraine whistleblower is - like so much else he has done - utterly beyond the pale".

House Republican whip Steve Scalise attempted a defence of Mr Trump's repeated demands for a Senate appearance from the whistleblower. He told Fox: "Look, the whistleblower should have testified a long time ago."

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is holding on to the articles of impeachment that the House passed on Dec 18 - meaning no Senate trial can begin.

She has berated Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell - who will take an oath of impartiality as a juror in the trial - for acknowledging his "total coordination" with the White House.- AFP