EDITOR'S NOTE: THIS VERSION ADDS TRUMP COMMENTS FROM FRIDAY NOVEMBER 8.
A parade of witnesses offering sometimes damning testimony that the U.S. president may have abused his office for political gain have left Republicans scrambling for a way to counter-attack.
And one target that the president's allies have seized on is a whistleblower whose initial anonymous complaint launched the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "So the whistleblower is a disgrace to our country.
And the whistleblower, because of that, should be revealed." Trump ripped into the whistleblower again Friday (November 8).
Republican strategists tell Reuters the push to unmask the whistleblower is meant to deflect voter attention away from the impeachment testimony and cast doubt on the Democratic-led proceedings.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SENATOR RAND PAUL, SAYING (NOV.
4): "I say tonight to the media, do your job and print his name." Republican Senator Rand Paul this week called on the media to expose the whistleblower's identity.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) SEN.
LINDSEY GRAHAM, SOUTH CAROLINA REPUBLICAN, SAYING (NOV.
5): "Well, the whistleblower statute was never meant to give you anonymity." Fellow Republican Lindsey Graham told reporters that the individual needs to come forward and testify.
The whistleblower's complaint - that Trump may have tried to pressure Ukraine to launch investigations into Democratic political rival Joe Biden - has already found substantial corroboration.
A White House summary of a July 25th call with the Ukrainian leader, and top U.S. diplomats have all painted a picture of a president pushing Kiev to probe his political opponent.
A former aide to Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor told Reuters that the administration's focus on the whistleblower is meant to divert attention away the substance of the impeachment probe, saying "Republican voters want to stick with their tribe and defend the president, and they need something to go on.
This gives strong Trump voters something to say when the actual request to Ukraine is indefensible." The president's
Class="kln">son Don Jr. this week tweeted a link to a report in a conservative news outlet containing the purported name of the whistleblower.
The whistleblower's lawyers have refused to disclose they client's identity, saying publication of their name "increases the likelihood of harassment and even deadly harm to the individual and their family,"