Joe diGenova, a former U.S. attorney and staunch defender of Mr. Trump, repeatedly referred to the unnamed whistleblower as John Wilkes Booth during a conservative radio program, comparing the member of the intelligence community who helped trigger impeachment proceedings to the actor who ended Lincoln’s life.
“This is a political assassination. This is a decapitation of a president. This is regicide,” Mr. diGenova said, using a term meant specifically to refer to the killing of a king.
Calling in to “Mornings on the Mall” on WMAL in D.C., Mr. diGenova then stated the name of an individual he suggested was the whistleblower before saying he would instead refer to that person as John Wilkes Booth.
“I have given him a name, by the way, for the purposes of all my public commentary. His name is as follows: John Wilkes Booth,” Mr. diGenova said on the radio program.
“That’s the name of the informant: John Wilkes Booth,” Mr. diGenova continued. “He worked at the CIA, and he is part of a political assassination. It’s now underway, and all of the listeners should realize that that’s what this is about. This is a fraud on the Constitution and a fraud on the American people.”
Democrats initiated an impeachment inquiry in September after the White House tried to block members of Congress from learning the details of a whistleblower complaint filed weeks earlier with the inspector general of the U.S. intelligence community. Mr. Trump and his allies have tried in the months since to push back in part by attempting to discredit the whistleblower and demanding the disclosure of their identity.
Lawyers representing the whistleblower have refused to reveal their client’s identity, citing concerns for the person’s safety and its potential to discourage others from coming forward. They have also argued that the whistleblower’s identity is not relevant since allegations contained in their complaint were recently substantiated by several witnesses called to testify during closed-door congressional impeachment proceedings.
Appearing on the conservative radio show, Mr. diGenova discouraged listeners from paying attention when those witnesses appear in public hearings starting Wednesday this week.
“It’s very important for our listeners not to get into the weeds and do what the Democrats want. They want us focusing on the witnesses,” Mr. diGenova said during the segment. “I tell people, do not do that.”
Mr. diGenova, 74, served as a U.S. attorney for D.C. from 1983 through 1988. He frequently appears on conservative programming, occasionally catching the president’s attention: Mr. Trump has quoted Mr. diGenova on Twitter at least six times during the last 18 months.
The whistleblower’s complaint raised concerns about the Trump administration withholding military aid from Ukraine amid the president appealing to the government in Kyiv to investigate the son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate.
Booth fatally shot Lincoln in the head in 1865 while the president attended a play in D.C. After escaping the theater, Booth was fatally shot several days later.
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