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Michigan man charged for allegedly sending death threat to Ukraine whistleblower's attorney

Special Report: Trump acquitted in final impeachment vote

Washington — A Michigan man was indicted last week for allegedly threatening to kill an attorney representing the anonymous whistleblower whose complaint sparked impeachment proceedings against President Trump.

The man, Brittan Atkinson, was charged with one count of violating a federal statute that governs interstate communications, according to the newly unsealed indictment. 

Atkinson allegedly sent an email to Mark Zaid, the attorney representing the whistleblower, on November 7, one day after Mr. Trump held a campaign rally in Louisiana,during which he read aloud years-old tweets from Zaid and flashed a paper bearing his photo to the audience

The email to Zaid read, "All traitors must die miserable deaths. 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. 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 filing was first discovered by Seamus Hughes, deputy director of George Washington University's Program on Extremism. Zaid is not named in the document but confirmed to CBS News he received the email.

"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," Zaid told CBS News in an email. "It's not appropriate for anyone to threaten another individual's life, regardless of political views."

Zaid thanked the FBI and Justice Department for "taking these threats seriously and sending the right message."

"My job was to ensure the rule of law was followed in how whistleblowers are treated," he added. "That role should not be negatively weaponized by partisans."

Zaid was part of the team representing the still-unidentified whistleblower who filed a complaint with the intelligence community's inspector general raising concerns about Mr. Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

On the call, Mr. Trump pressured the newly elected president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter and look into an unsubstantiated theory about the 2016 presidential election.

The phone conversation, and the withholding of the whistleblower's complaint by the acting director of national intelligence, led House Democrats to launch its impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump. While he was impeached by the House on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, the Senate acquitted him on the two impeachment charges.

Mr. Trump's Republican allies attempted to unmask the whistleblower during the impeachment proceedings and asked to have the person testify publicly. Their efforts, however, were rebuffed.

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