WATERVILLE — The identity of the whistleblower at the center of the Ukraine scandal involving President Donald Trump should be protected, Sen. Angus King said Monday.

“I think it’s outrageous that people are trying to identify who this person is,” the Independent Maine senator told the Morning Sentinel in an interview after remarks to veterans at an event Monday. “No. 1 — it’s irrelevant. If somebody calls in a fire, we don’t need to know who calls in the fire, you need to fight the fire. They said that something was wrong; it’s now been investigated. It turns out pretty much everything they said was true. But talking to that person is irrelevant and trying to find out who it is I think is pure vengeance and puts their life in danger.”

King was in Waterville on Monday for a fundraiser for Veteran Mentors of Maine, which helps military veterans seek drug, alcohol and mental health treatment; connects them to state and federal resources; and assists with navigating the court system.

As the public impeachment inquiry hearings into Trump draw near, King stated that he thinks that Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) should be cautious about who he accepts as witnesses. On Saturday, House Republicans released a list of individuals they want to see publicly testify, which includes the Ukraine whistleblower, Hunter Biden and Devon Archer, Biden’s former business partner at Ukranian natural gas company Burisma.

“If there are witnesses that are legitimately connected to the investigation of the matter at hand, then they should be brought before the committee,” King said. “I don’t think (Schiff) should agree to witnesses who are clearly there just to distract from what the issue is before the House.”

The senator said he thinks that the Republican effort to pull Hunter Biden into the investigation is “a separate issue.”

“Until last year, the Republicans were in charge of the House, and if they thought investigating Hunter Biden was important or necessary, they could have done it. Apparently, they didn’t,” he said.

King’s comments come on the heels of an op-ed he penned in Newsweek Friday in which he affirmed the 1778 law enshrining protection for whistleblowers who speak out against “misconduct, frauds or misdemeanors committed by any officers or persons in the service of these states.” The senator also denounced Trump’s tweets and public statements encouraging the “unmasking” of the whistleblower and warned that revealing the person’s identity would discourage others from speaking out in the future.

“Our founders made (whistleblower protections) a priority in our earliest, most uncertain days because they knew that for this grand experiment to continue, there could be no person whose interests were greater than the country’s interests,” King wrote. “An individual who speaks in defense of American principles is not a traitor; they are a patriot.

“We believe that sunlight is the best disinfectant and salute those whose conscience guides them toward ethical behavior,” he added later in the op-ed. “If we are to continue to benefit from their courage, we must reassert, here and now, that centuries-old American value that speaking truth to power is not a right; it is a duty.”


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