Morrison & Foerster partner Robert Litt spoke to NPR about whether it would be a crime for the president to reveal the name of the anonymous whistleblower.
The answer is no, according to Robert. “If Trump thinks he knows the name, he can come out and say it, and he’s probably as protected as anyone,” Robert said, but adds that if naming a whistleblower causes a chain reaction leading to a demotion or firing, or if the whistleblower is threatened with violence or is physically harmed, the legal situation could change drastically.
“Anybody who is thinking about outing the whistleblower has to take into account the possibility that if something happens to the whistleblower, there would be some civil liability for causing that to happen. And while disclosing the identity of the whistleblower isn’t necessarily unlawful, creating a hostile work environment might be viewed as retaliation.”