House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) cautioned impeachment witnesses on Tuesday not to answer questions from Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) because they were allegedly designed to out a whistleblower who kicked off the inquiry.
During a House impeachment hearing, Nunes repeatedly questioned two witnesses -- Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council aide -- about whether they had leaked information to the press.
Schiff suggested that the line of questioning was designed to suss out the identity of the whistleblower, who has a right to anonymity under federal law.
"We need to protect the whistleblower. Please stop," Schiff said. "I want to make sure that there's no effort to out the whistleblower through the use of these proceedings. If the witness has a good faith belief that this may reveal the identity of the whistleblower, that is not the purpose that we are here for and I want to advise the witness accordingly."
Following Schiff's caution, an attorney for Vindman declined to answer further questions about the whistleblower.
"On behalf of my client, we are following the rule of the committee, the rule of the chair with regard to this issue, and this does not call for an answer that is invoking the 5th or any theoretical issue like that," the attorney noted. "We're following the ruling of the chair."
"We've attempted to subpoena the whistleblower to sit for a deposition," Nunes countered. "The chair has tabled that motion and has been unwilling to recognize those motions over the last few days of this impeachment inquisition process."
Watch the video below from MSNBC.