The name of the supposed whistleblower was raised by the Republicans as they questioned William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, in a closed-door impeachment deposition.
In asking a question about the official accused of being the whistleblower on Oct. 22, Steve Castor, the GOP’s counsel on the House Oversight Committee, got CIA officer Eric Ciaramella’s name on the record.
“Does a person by the name of Eric Ciaramella ring a bell for you?” Castor asked, as seen in a transcript released Wednesday.
“It doesn’t,” Taylor replied. Asked whether he is certain if he has never had communications with a person by that name, Taylor said, “Correct.”
Republican lawmakers and their staff have used the impeachment proceedings against President Trump to collect information about Ciaramella. Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert raised Ciaramella’s name during an unrelated public hearing with Natalie Jaresko, Ukraine’s former finance minister, who is now executive director of the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico.
Castor is Rep. Jim Jordan’s chief investigative counsel on the House Oversight Committee and has led the Republican line of questioning of witnesses in closed-door depositions so far. With the impeachment process moving to public hearings conducted by the House Intelligence Committee, Republicans are now considering a shuffle that would place Jordan on the spy panel in order to help bolster the cross-examination of witnesses testifying against Trump, who Democrats accuse of abusing his office for political gain.
Ciaramella, a career CIA analyst, was Ukraine director on the National Security Council during the end of the Obama administration and remained there during the early months of the Trump administration when he was briefly acting senior director for European and Russian affairs.
Andrew Bakaj and Mark Zaid, lawyers for the whistleblower, refuse to confirm the identity of their client even as such high-profile figures as Donald Trump Jr. have named Ciaramella as the whistleblower.
“Identifying any suspected name for the whistleblower will place their family at risk of serious harm. We will not confirm or deny any name that is published or promoted by supporters of the President. Disclosure of any name undermines the integrity of the whistleblower system and will deter any future whistleblowers,” they said in a statement Wednesday. “We will note, however, that publication or promotion of a name shows the desperation to deflect from the substance of the whistleblower complaint. It will not relieve the President of the need to address the substantive allegation, all of which have been substantially proven to be true.”