Nov. 14 (UPI) -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday she will strongly defend the whistle-blower who first expressed concerns about President Donald Trump's conduct and ultimately spawned a congressional impeachment investigation.
Pelosi told reporters the whistle-blower's identity should be protected, even though some Republicans have argued Trump has the right to confront his accuser.
The whistle-blower, known only as a U.S. intelligence official, reported concerns about Trump's July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which the U.S. leader pressed for investigations of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. The official had been concerned Trump was using hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid as leverage to get Zelensky agree to investigate the Bidens. Hunter Biden served for five years on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.
Trump also wanted Kiev to investigate accusations that Ukraine, not Russia, had been responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Pelosi cited her 25 years in the intelligence committee and work she's done to secure federal protections for whistle-blowers.
"When you talk about the whistle-blower, you're coming into my wheelhouse. I have more experience in intelligence than anybody in Congress," she said. "The whistle-blower is there to speak truth to power and have protection in doing that.
"Any retribution or harm coming to the whistle-blower undermines our ability to hear truth about power. I will defend the rights of the whistle-blower vehemently."
"The president is not above the law," she added. "[Trump] will be held accountable.
"Nobody should have the right to endanger whistle-blowers."
The House leader added that two diplomats who testified in a public impeachment hearing Wednesday confirmed complaints that said Trump attempted to use public, Congress-approved funds to dig up dirt on a political rival.
"[Democratic investigators are] showing great patriotism and professionalism with which they are conducting the proceedings. I'm very proud of them," she said.
"All roads lead to Putin. Putin benefited by any holding of that military assistance," she added. "Putin benefited by the action taken by the president, vis-a-vis Syria and Turkey because they wanted a stronger stronghold in the Middle East and the president gave him that.
"The list goes on. I'm not even going to talk about the  election."
The second public impeachment hearing is scheduled for Friday and will include testimony from former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who Trump removed from the post in May.