Mark S. Zaid, a prominent national security lawyer in Washington and a Trump critic on Twitter, has joined the legal team representing the intelligence community whistleblower who is targeting President Trump.
The legal reinforcement in a media-political frenzy not seen since the 2017 Trump-Russia brouhaha signals a tough battle ahead for the White House and the Justice Department.
Mr. Zaid’s law partner, Bradley P. Moss, is counterattacking conservatives who have vilified the unidentified whistleblower. He called the Trump supporters “human excrement posing as human beings.”
Mr. Zaid is joining the whistleblower’s existing legal counsel, Andrew P. Bakaj, himself a vindicated whistleblower from his CIA days. Mr. Bakaj once did counseling work on Capitol Hill for Democratic Sens. Hillary Clinton and Charles E. Schumer, the party’s Senate leader, his posted biography says.
“I am now formally part of legal team,” Mr. Zaid tweeted over the weekend. He said Mr. Moss will stay out of the case “so Brad can continue to comment on WB policy/law.”
The Justice Department is blocking the intelligence community inspector general from turning over complaint information to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, headed by Rep. Adam B. Schiff, California Democrat.
Mr. Schiff has launched a full-length investigation into nearly every aspect of Mr. Trump’s life. The committee chairman enthusiastically supported the 2016 Democratic Party-financed dossier filled with anti-Trump allegations that have since been discredited.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the whistleblower’s information is that Mr. Trump, in a phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, urged an investigation of Joseph R. Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, a global business investor who Republicans say cashes in on his father’s status as a former senator and vice president.
Mr. Zaid said in a Twitter post that he won’t discuss the case publicly.
“To all my reporter friends, no need to reach out & ask questions. No answers forthcoming at this time,” said Mr. Zaid, who offers pro bono defense to intelligence and defense whistleblowers.
Mr. Zaid maintains a steady presence on Twitter, where he frequently criticizes Mr. Trump and retweets his critics.
“The US ‘media is a joke’ in the world says @realDonaldTrump. How #embarrassing to hear this from a president,” Mr. Zaid tweeted as Mr. Trump went after his favorite target. “Hey @FoxNews @Potus didn’t exclude you from that criticism.”
Mr. Zaid also has targeted Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal attorney. Mr. Giuliani traveled to Ukraine in an apparent bid to have Hunter Biden scrutinized for the large financial payments he received from a Ukrainian natural gas firm that has been suspected of corruption.
Mr. Zaid tweeted: “Why have @POTUS personal lawyer talk abt subject matter he knows nothing abt factually or legally? These allegations pertain to official acts (& classified) that @RudyGiuliani should not have been briefed on. Nor does he know anything, to my knowledge, abt #whistleblower laws.”
On the immigration front, Mr. Zaid had this comment on his retweet of a story that claimed archaeological damage if the southern border wall is built: “Of course it will.”
When former Trump press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she is “relentlessly” attacked by women, Mr. Zaid tweeted, “Gosh, why would that be?”
Mr. Moss, Mr. Zaid’s law partner, is a Twitter combatant who regularly disparages Mr. Trump’s defenders.
Mr. Moss asked Mr. Giuliani, “Saturday morning martinis again, Rudy?”
He tweeted at former acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker: “I hope you’re ready to get sued for defamation for claiming falsely that the whistleblower tried to leak information to the Washington Post.”
When former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard B. Kerik questioned the whistleblower’s politics and accuracy, Mr. Moss said: “You’re a disgrace and an ex-convict yourself. The IC IG — who was appointed by Trump — validated the disclosure qualified as an urgent concern. Why don’t you go back to committing tax fraud? You were good at that.”
To Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera, who called the whistleblower a “punk,” Mr. Moss tweeted: “get on your knees and beg the whistleblower for forgiveness, you despicable hack. This person followed the law, they reported things within proper channels. They didn’t leak.”
To Trump supporters, Mr. Moss’ Twitter message is: “There is a special place in the fiery pits of Hell for ‘law and order’ conservatives who smear a whistleblower who made a protected disclosure through proper channels as outlined in federal law. They are human excrement posing as human beings.”
Mr. Bakaj is the founder and managing partner of Compass Rose Legal Group, whose lawyers include I. Charles McCullough. He was the intelligence community’s inspector general during the Hillary Clinton-State Department email scandal. He expressed criticism of how Mrs. Clinton stored highly classified data on her home computer server.
He said on Fox News that it didn’t matter if not all documents were marked classified and that what mattered was the information and whether it was indeed secret.
Mr. Bakaj also is a veteran of the inspector general corps, working in the CIA’s IG office as an investigator into whistleblower complaints.
He helped write the procedures for protecting complainants and then found himself under investigation for reporting evidence tampering in 2014.
Yahoo News reported that the CIA suspended Mr. Bakaj and stripped him of his security clearance.
The CIA IG dismissed his retaliation complaint, so he appealed off-site to the Department of Homeland Security inspector general’s office. It ruled that Mr. Bakaj was the victim of a CIA “retaliatory investigation.”
By then, Mr. Bakaj had left the agency and gone into his national security law practice focusing on cases that mirror his personal experience.
He was represented by Mr. Zaid back then, and it was Mr. McCullough, his current law partner and then the intelligence community inspector general, who asked the Homeland Security Department in 2016 to investigate Mr. Bakaj’s reprisal complaint.