Lawyer: Whistleblower willing to take written GOP questions

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President Donald Trump watches a replay of a lightweight mixed martial arts bout between Kevin Lee and Gregor Gillespie at UFC 244, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in New York. Lee stopped Gillespie in the first round. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

WASHINGTON, DC – A lawyer for the whistleblower who raised alarms about President Donald Trump's dealings with Ukraine said Sunday his client is willing to answer written questions submitted by House Republicans.

The surprise offer, made to Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, would allow Republicans to ask questions of the whistleblower, who spurred the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry, without having to go through the committee's chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

Attorney Mark Zaid tweeted that the whistleblower would answer questions directly from Republican members "in writing, under oath & penalty of perjury," part of a bid to stem escalating efforts by Trump and his GOP allies to unmask the person's identity. Only queries seeking the person's identity won't be answered, he said.

"Being a whistleblower is not a partisan job nor is impeachment an objective. That is not our role," Zaid tweeted. "So we have offered to @DevinNunes."

"We will ensure timely answers," he said.

Nunes' office did not have immediate comment. Rep. Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican and member of the House Judiciary Committee who has been highly critical of the impeachment process, said in a statement that written answers wouldn't be sufficient to probe and cross-examine the whistleblower.

"You don't get to ignite an impeachment effort and never account for your actions and role in orchestrating it," Jordan said. "We have serious questions about this individual's political bias and partisan motivations and it seems Mark Zaid and Adam Schiff are attempting to hide these facts from public scrutiny. Last week's testimony raised even more concerns about the anonymous whistleblower and our need to hear from them, in person."

The offer comes as Trump has repeatedly demanded the release of the whistleblower's identity, tweeting Sunday that the person "must come forward." The whistleblower raised concerns about Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in which he pressed Zelenskiy to investigate Trump's political rivals. That call became the catalyst for the impeachment inquiry.