Commentary

Congressman Dan Bishop should be held to account for his shameful and possibly illegal act

The behavior of President Trump’s Republican defenders in Congress is beginning to resemble less and less that of a legitimate political party and more what one would expect from of a group of juvenile gang members egging each other on to more and more outrageous acts. The latest disgraceful example comes courtesy of newbie North Carolina congressman, Dan Bishop (pictured at left).

As Jim Morrill of the Charlotte Observer reported yesterday evening:

U.S. Rep. Dan Bishop apparently became the first member of Congress to divulge the purported name of the whistleblower whose memo sparked the House impeachment inquiry.

The Charlotte Republican published the name in a Monday tweet.

Bishop was responding to a tweet from someone who said Republicans should refer to the person as “the leaker” or “the deep state spy in the White House.”

“100%. I refuse to cower before the authoritarian intimidation campaign. He’s not Voldemort,” Bishop replied, alluding to the Harry Potter villain who’s rarely named. “And he’s not a bona fide whistleblower. Even if he were, he wouldn’t be entitled to secrecy.”

He went on to tweet the name of a person he called “a deep state conspirator.”

Make no mistake: this is a serious and dangerous act on Bishop’s part. The whistleblower in question has already received multiple death threats. What’s more, Bishop’s action quite arguably violates federal law. As the website Charlotte Stories reported yesterday:

If the name Bishop tweeted out is determined to be the actual name of the whistleblower, there’s a chance he could be found guilty of violating one or more of the following:

  • A 1982 amendment to the National Security Act of 1947 that makes it a crime to intentionally disclose “any information identifying” a covert intelligence agent.
  • Section 1505 of the US Obstruction of Justice code, which makes it a crime if someone “corruptly, or by threats or force … influences, obstructs, or impedes … the due and proper administration of the law.”
  • Section 1513 of the US Obstruction of Justice code, which makes it a crime to retaliate against someone “for providing to a law enforcement officer any truthful information relating to the commission or possible commission of any Federal offense.”

Federal law protecting whistleblowers is a vital bipartisan statutory scheme that goes to the very essence of a functioning democracy. By blatantly and shamefully violating such a law, Bishop is undermining the very legitimacy of American government and abetting the cause of lawless despotism.

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