Impeachment witnesses can expect abuse, death threats, say survivors of past political scandals

news.trust.org | 11/14/2019 | Staff
NEW YORK, Nov 14 (Reuters) - John Dean entered the witness protection program. Valerie Plame feared for her children.

Both are veterans of U.S. political scandals that threatened the White House, and they have a warning for the witnesses who are testifying against President Donald Trump in the current public impeachment hearings. Life is about to change, it could get ugly, and death threats will become routine.

Politics - Blood - Sport - Way - Plame

"You know that politics is a blood sport, but you can never quite be prepared for what is coming your way," Plame, who was at the center of a 2003 episode that rocked the presidency of George W. Bush, said in a telephone interview. "They're going to be subjected to all kinds of abuse."

The Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives began calling the first public witnesses in the impeachment inquiry on Wednesday, hearing from officials who handled U.S. policy in Ukraine under the Republican president. Testimony will resume on Friday and continue next week.

Scandals - Bureaucrats - Operatives - Household - Names

Previous presidential scandals have turned anonymous bureaucrats or secretive operatives into household names. Those on the wrong side of the president discovered just how much intimidation a White House can marshal, especially when backed by outside acolytes and media allies.

Trump and his supporters have already started attacking one witness due to testify, U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman. They have also targeted the anonymous whistleblower who started the inquiry by raising questions about Trump's July 25 telephone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, when Trump asked Zelenskiy to investigate political rival Joe Biden.

President - Dean - White - House - Counsel

Crossing a president, as Dean, a former White House counsel, did in Watergate and civil servant Linda Tripp did in the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton, can trigger an avalanche of hate mail.

But rallying to the president's defense can pay dividends. When National Security Council staffer Oliver North enthusiastically testified...
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