In an interview with Hari Sreenivasan for PBS News Hour, Phillips & Cohen founding partner and False Claims Act pioneer John Phillips discusses the rights whistleblowers have, the protections and opportunities that the False Claims Act and other laws provide them and how to make sense of the whistleblower case that has fomented an impeachment inquiry against President Trump:
Well, that’s why that law was passed in 1998 to deal with the intelligence community inside the National Security Association, inside the White House, because the concerns were there that there are abuses, actions being taken that are illegal, totally unethical whatever. There’s no way, no easy way to report it.
So Congress in 1998 passed this law, very specifically saying the steps that you must take in order to invoke this law and we will protect you, if you do this, we will protect your anonymity which is sometimes very hard to do and we’ll protect you from any other actions taken against you, retaliatory actions. What frequently happens for people in the industries the defense industry or health care is that they may get fired, they may be sued by their own companies, they’re called informers or spies and that’s just a wrong nomenclature to use against these people but yet it surfaces.
The idea that the president of the United States can label somebody as close to a spy that complies to the letter with the law that Congress enacted and presents in a very credible, serious, professional way, very serious allegations about improprieties by this administration and this president complied to the letter and to be called a spy, almost a spy by the president is just unbelievable.
Watch the entire exchange or read the full transcript of “the legal framework protecting whistleblowers in the U.S.,” on PBS News Hours’s website.