For a town that leaks like a sieve, Washington has done an astonishingly effective job keeping from the American public the name of the anonymous “whistleblower” who triggered impeachment proceedings against President Trump — even though his identity is an open secret inside the Beltway.
But the name of a government official fitting that description — Eric Ciaramella — has been raised privately in impeachment depositions, according to officials with direct knowledge of the proceedings, as well as in at least one open hearing held by a House committee not involved in the impeachment inquiry. Fearing their anonymous witness could be exposed, Democrats this week blocked Republicans from asking more questions about him and intend to redact his name from all deposition transcripts.
Federal documents reveal that the 33-year-old Ciaramella, a registered Democrat held over from the Obama White House, previously worked with former Vice President Joe Biden and former CIA Director John Brennan, a vocal critic of Trump who helped initiate the Russia “collusion” investigation of the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.
Further, Ciaramella (pronounced char-a-MEL-ah) left his National Security Council posting in the White House’s West Wing in mid-2017 amid concerns about negative leaks to the media. He has since returned to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
“He was accused of working against Trump and leaking against Trump,” said a former NSC official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.
“Everyone knows who he is. CNN knows. The Washington Post knows. The New York Times knows. Congress knows. The White House knows. Even the president knows who he is,” said Fred Fleitz, a former CIA analyst and national security adviser to Trump, who has fielded dozens of calls from the media.
Yet a rare hush has swept across the Potomac. The usually gossipy nation’s capital remains uncharacteristically — and curiously — mum, especially considering the magnitude of this story, only the fourth presidential impeachment inquiry in U.S. history.