Tricia Newbold set an important mark when she became the first official currently serving in Donald Trump’s White House to take accusations of wrongdoing to Congress—and to put her name publicly behind them.
But Democrats on Capitol Hill say that beyond Newbold, a small army of whistle-blowers from across the government has been working in secret with the House Oversight Committee to report alleged malfeasance inside the Trump administration. Lawmakers and aides are reluctant to discuss information they have gleaned from anonymous government tipsters in detail. But the list of whistle-blowers who either currently or previously worked in the Trump administration, or who worked closely with the administration, numbers in the “dozens,” according to a senior aide from the committee now led by Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland.
The Oversight Committee, like many committees in Congress, has a long history of working with federal whistle-blowers regardless of which party is in charge. Though some come forward publicly, most provide information or leak documents anonymously, helping to lead to investigations and, sometimes, hearings. “It’s entirely proper, and it’s really the point of what the Oversight Committee does,” says former Representative Tom Davis of Virginia, a Republican who headed the panel during the mid-2000s. When he was the chairman of the committee, many whistle-blowers’ reports led nowhere, he says, as they frequently came from “disgruntled employees” or others whose complaints were frivolous. But that was not always the case. Davis recalled, for example, that whistle-blowers were crucial to the investigation that exposed the military’s cover-up of the 2004 friendly-fire incident that killed Army Corporal Pat Tillman, a former NFL star who died fighting in Afghanistan.