Trump Retweeted The Name Of The Alleged Whistleblower
Twitter says the president's retweet is not a violation of its rules.
On Friday, a few minutes before midnight in Washington, DC, President Donald Trump retweeted a message to his 68 million followers that named the alleged whistleblower. It was an escalation from the president, who has until this week refrained from publicly disclosing the name of a CIA officer that has been floated by conservative news outlets and pro-Trump commentators as the person who filed the whistleblower report.
On Saturday morning, some users reported they could no longer see the retweet on Trump's Twitter timeline and believed that he may have undone the action. Others could still see the retweet. A Twitter spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that Trump never deleted or undid the retweet and that the issue was caused by an unspecified system outage that led certain tweets to be visible to some accounts but not others.
The White House did not return a request for comment.
The retweet comes after several months of increasing pressure from the president and his supporters to take action against the whistleblower who raised concerns about Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. A complaint, filed by the anonymous whistleblower in August, touched off the investigation and eventual impeachment process against Trump.
Trump has repeatedly used his Twitter account to call for the whistleblower to testify before Congress or to be investigated. Numerous Trump allies, including Donald Trump Jr., have previously named the alleged whistleblower. However, Trump himself has refrained from naming an individual.
On Thursday, the president retweeted a Trump campaign account that had shared a link with the alleged whistleblower’s name in the URL. Then, on Friday, he retweeted a message that included the name from an account with the handle @Surfermom77, which describes itself as a “100%Trump Supporter.” It was the second to last message he shared over a three-hour period in which he tweeted or retweeted more than 40 messages.
BuzzFeed News does not know the identity of the whistleblower and has not published the text of the tweet. The New York Times reported that the whistleblower is a CIA officer previously detailed to the White House with expertise on Ukraine.
A Twitter spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that tweets with the name of the alleged whistleblower — and subsequent retweets — were not a violation of the company’s terms of service regardless of whether the name showed up in a URL or in a tweet’s text. They noted that it would be a violation, however, if a tweet included someone’s personal information such as an address or phone number.
Twitter's autocomplete function for its search bar also pushed users toward the name of the alleged whistleblower. Multiple users found that typing the first two letters of the name led Twitter to suggest the full name.
Facebook has a policy against naming the whistleblower and told BuzzFeed News on Thursday that any mention of the name of the person believed to be the whistleblower violates its coordinating harm policy.
This post has been updated with a comment from Twitter.
This post has been updated to reflect the fact that Trump's retweet is no longer appearing for some users.