Roberts blocks Rand Paul’s attempt to name alleged whistleblower

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., talks on his phone Thursday, before the start of the Senate impeachment trial proceedings. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., talks on his phone Thursday, before the start of the Senate impeachment trial proceedings. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Posted January 30, 2020 at 4:24pm

Sen. Rand Paul submitted a question to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. Thursday afternoon that included the possible name of the intelligence community whistleblower. Roberts passed on reading the question to the chamber. Immediately after, Paul left the chamber and held a news conference reading the question in front of the TV cameras.

Paul read the question aloud, pertaining to the contact between a staffer for House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff and a person who has been speculated by other parties to be the whistleblower.

Paul claimed his question had nothing to do with the whistleblower and that he didn’t know his or her identity.

“My question is about two people who are friends who worked at the National Security Council,” Paul said.

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“Manager Schiff says he has no knowledge. If he has no knowledge, the rest of us can have no knowledge of who the whistleblower is. The president’s team says they have no knowledge of who the whistleblower is,” Paul said. 

Paul then highlighted his support for Edward Snowden.

“You shouldn’t be able to use statutes to somehow make a whole part of the discussion over this impeachment go away. Look, I’m the biggest defender of the whistleblower statute. I’ve been one saying that Edward Snowden was the greatest whistleblower of all-time,” Paul said. “Half of these people down here who say they support the whistleblower statute want to put Edward Snowden to death or in jail forever.”

Unlike Snowden, the whistleblower whose report is at the center of the allegation, requested anonymity and went through appropriate and legal channels for reporting concerns related to national security.

Paul said he opted against prolonging Thursday’s session by forcing a debate on whether or not to overrule the decision by the chief justice to decline to read the question as drafted.

“That was a debate I made up until the very last minute, and I decided that we’re going to have enough voting tomorrow,” the Kentucky Republican said. “I decided that we're going to have enough voting tomorrow, that rather than delay the proceeding — I think we’re going to have 12 hours of voting tomorrow.”