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WaPo gives Schiff three-Pinocchio fact-check rating for claims about the whistleblower's anonymity

Does federal law guarantee the anonymity of the CIA employee whose whistleblower complaint is behind Congress' current impeachment conflagration? The Washington Post says it doesn't and is calling out House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, D-Calif., for saying so.

On Wednesday, the newspaper gave Schiff a rating of "three Pinocchios" for his claim that the federal employee in question has a right to anonymity under federal laws regarding the protection of whistleblowers.

To begin, the Post cites multiple quotes from Schiff alleging that the employee has a "statutory right" to keep his identity shielded from public scrutiny. Then, the article looks at the actual laws that deal with situations like this one and determines, "Neither the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act of 1998 (ICWPA) nor any related statutes have language guaranteeing anonymity for whistleblowers." It also notes that the portion of the law that prevents the inspector general from outing a whistleblower's identity "appears to be the lone statutory restriction on disclosing a whistleblower’s identity, applicable only to the inspector general’s office."

University of Texas School of Law Professor Stephen Vladeck told the newspaper, “Nothing in the ICWPA expressly protects the anonymity of a complainant, or provides sanctions for someone who discloses it."

When in applying the newspaper's "Pinocchio Test," the article says that Schiff's claims were "on the line between Two and Three Pinocchios" but that the case for three was "more compelling."

"Schiff says the whistleblower has a 'statutory right' to anonymity, and it apparently, in Schiff’s understanding, extends to congressional hearings and settings that don’t involve the inspector general," the article concludes. "That’s debatable at best."

Republicans have made the case that the employee behind the complaint needs to testify so that investigators can "fully assess the sources and credibility of the employee." Republicans have also argued that Schiff himself has changed his position on whether or not congressional investigators would hear open testimony from the employee.

Schiff has also publicly claimed that he doesn't know who the employee is, despite his efforts to police the release of his identity. During Tuesday's public impeachment hearings, Schiff stopped both Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Devin Nunes, R-Calif., from questioning witness Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman about whom he told about the now-infamous July 25 Trump-Ukraine phone call, citing concerns about the employee's identity.

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