The latter strategy, the one the president and his team have apparently selected, is both reprehensible and dangerous. The whistleblower laws have roots that go back to the earliest days of the republic—in fact, to even before the Constitution was adopted—and are designed to foster officeholders’ accountability to the people. If the people don’t know what government is up to, abuses of office are allowed to happen with impunity. By scapegoating the whistleblower to save a corrupt presidency, Republicans are sending a chilling message to other career public servants: serve your country at your own personal peril.

Under these circumstances, House Democrats have no choice but to maintain a tight leash on the process, to ensure that it doesn’t digress into a due process-less indictment of an innocent person who exercised legal rights for the benefit of the country. At this point, the focus must be on what the holder of the highest office did, by his own admission. Leave the whistleblower alone, please.