Federal prosecutors in Michigan have indicted a man for sending an email threat to attorney Mark Zaid, who represented the intelligence community whistleblower at the heart of the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, CBS News reports.
Brittan Atkinson, a self-described Trump supporter, allegedly emailed the attorney in November, calling him a “traitor” who “must die a miserable death.”
“All traitors must die miserable deaths. Those that represent traitors shall meet the same fate,” Atkinson wrote, according to an indictment unsealed this morning in the Eastern District of Michigan.
The email added: “Those that represent traitors shall meet the same fate. We will hunt you down and bleed you out like the pigs you are. We have nothing but time, and you are running out of it. Keep looking over your shoulder. We know who you are, where you live, and who you associate with. We are all strangers in a crowd to you.”
The indictment follows months of rhetorical salvos by the president and his allies against the whistleblower, whose purported identity has been posted on social media and even read aloud in the Senate chamber despite federal laws that allow whistleblowers to remain anonymous in order to encourage them to report wrongdoing.
Trump has tweeted about the whistleblower more than five dozen times since September, accusing the person of being part of the “deep state” and alleging that he gave the Intelligence Community inspector general false information. Nothing in the whistleblower’s original complaint, however, has proven inaccurate.
Zaid and his co-counsel on the whistleblower case, Andrew Bakaj, wrote a letter to then Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire in September raising “serious concerns” about their client’s safety following remarks Trump made at the U.N. accusing the whistleblower of being a “spy.”
“You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart with spies and treason, right? We used to handle it a little differently than we do now,” Trump said, according to audio of the remarks obtained by The Los Angeles Times.
“It’s not appropriate for anyone to threaten another individual’s life, regardless of political views,” Mark Zaid said. “My job was to ensure the rule of law was followed in how whistleblowers are treated. That role should not be negatively weaponized by partisans.”
“I hope this indictment sends a message to others that such behavior will not be tolerated by a civil society that is governed by law,” he added.
Whistleblower protection advocates and national security experts have warned that the president’s attacks on the intelligence community employee who first raised alarms about Trump’s call with Ukraine’s president last summer could lead to violence.