Schumer Asks Pentagon To Remind Personnel Of Whistleblower Protections

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks to reporters following the weekly Democratic policy luncheon at the on November 5, 2019. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
November 18, 2019 11:20 a.m.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) wrote to the secretary of defense on Monday, requesting that he make the protections awarded to whistleblowers formally known to civilian and military personnel.

Schumer also called out Defense Secretary Mark Esper for a recent department correspondence that appeared to discourage Defense Department officials from cooperating with congressional investigators’ requests.

“I request that you formally notify all civilian and military personnel of their legal rights to make protected disclosures to Congress,” Schumer wrote. “I also request that you brief me on what actions are being taken to ensure that (Lt. Colonel Alexander) Vindman, (Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura) Cooper and other whistleblowers like them are afforded appropriate protections — both from workplace reprisals and for their personal safety and that of their families.”

The letter follows attacks from conservative media personalities on Vindman’s character and patriotism, both before and after his closed-door testimony before congressional investigators. Vindman is a Purple Heart recipient, who was given the designation after being wounded while serving in Iraq.

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The request also comes as President Trump publicly attacks an aide to Vice President Mike Pence following the release of the transcript of her testimony, in which she told Congress she heard the Ukrainian president mention Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company where Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden sat on the board, during the infamous call between Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky. The Pence aide, Jennifer Williams, also described the call as “unusual and inappropriate.” In a tweet on Sunday, Trump claimed the longtime aide was a “Never Trumper.”

Read the full letter below:

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