POLITICS

Rand Paul Presses Media To Out Whistleblower At Trump Rally

Some Republicans have been closing ranks around the president as Democrats ramp up the impeachment inquiry.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R) demanded the media reveal the identity of the whistleblower whose complaint prompted the ongoing impeachment inquiry while onstage with President Donald Trump on Monday evening.

Trump was in Lexington, Kentucky, to hold a rally ahead of Tuesday’s gubernatorial election, in which Republican Gov. Matt Bevin is seeking a second term. But the president also used the event to launch yet another defense of his behavior and attack the Democratic leaders spearheading the House probe into his call with the leader of Ukraine earlier this year.

When the president brought Paul on stage, the senator peddled unfounded claims about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Paul also took aim at the whistleblower, who remains anonymous, echoing Republican calls for the intelligence worker’s identity to be revealed. 

“We also now know the name of the whistleblower. The whistleblower needs to come forward as a material witness because he worked for Joe Biden at the same time Hunter Biden was getting money from corrupt oligarchs,” Paul said. “I say tonight to the media, do your job and print his name.”

The whistleblower’s complaint focused on Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. During the discussion, Trump demanded that Zelensky investigate the Bidens in exchange for political favors and military aid. Many current and former administration officials have since corroborated that account, and the White House released a summary of the call showing as much.

Neither Biden has been accused of any formal wrongdoing.

Trump, who has demanded he be able to face the whistleblower and denied the existence of a quid pro quo, seemed slightly taken aback — but pleased — by Paul’s ferocity on Monday.

“Wow, that was excellent,” the president said. “Thank you.”

Paul doubled down on his comments in a tweet shortly after the rally, saying he called “on Congress to have the courage to immediately subpoena both Hunter Biden and the whistleblower!”

Several GOP Senators have been amping up their efforts to reveal the whistleblower’s identity, despite efforts by the person’s attorneys to keep it secret. Various conservative media outlets have been sharing an unverified name they believe is the whistleblower, but there has been no outside confirmation.

The whistleblower’s lawyers have said their client would be willing to answer Republicans’ questions under oath as long as lawmakers didn’t ask for any identifying information

Trump and Paul were also joined by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Both Kentucky senators have closed ranks around the president even amidst the ongoing inquiry and a barrage of damaging testimony from current and former administration officials.

The House voted to formalize the impeachment inquiry last Thursday amid Republican calls that the probe was being conducted in secret.

The U.S. has several major whistleblower laws on the books meant to protect such people from retaliation, and the intelligence community inspector general and director of national security are prohibited from revealing whistleblowers’ names. But those provisions generally do not prohibit Trump or his allies from seeking out — or disclosing — the whistleblower’s identity.

Some Republicans have expressed support for the whistleblower in the midst of the ongoing probe. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who helped author whistleblower protection laws, said Monday it was “strictly” up to the person whether or not they reveal their identity. 

“All I want to do is make sure the law is followed. A person like me that has advocated for whistleblowers for a long period of time, including this whistleblower, I want maximum protection for whistleblowers,” Grassley said. “The law protects the whistleblower.”

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