Rand Paul: 'We deserve to know' identity of Trump whistleblower

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulTrump allies throw jabs at Bolton over book's claims Overnight Defense: White House threatens to veto House Iran bills | Dems 'frustrated' after Iran briefing | Lawmakers warn US, UK intel sharing at risk after Huawei decision Foreign Relations Democrats 'deeply frustrated' after Iran briefing MORE (R-Ky.) said this week that the whistleblower at the center of the impeachment inquiry against President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN's Don Lemon explains handling of segment after Trump criticism NPR reporter after Pompeo clash: Journalists don't interview government officials to score 'political points' Lawyer says Parnas can't attend Senate trial due to ankle bracelet MORE should "come forward," given the fallout from their complaint. 
 
"Ultimately, if someone's going to accuse you of something that's going to bring down a presidency, I think we deserve to know who that person is," Paul told reporters in Kentucky on Tuesday. 

"I think there are reasons to have whistleblower statutes, and have anonymity. But if you're accusing somebody of something with the ramifications of impeachment, I think really the person ought to come forward," he added.

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Paul's comments come as President Trump has doubled down publicly on his demand to know the identity of the whistleblower behind the growing controversy over Trump's interactions with Ukraine. The New York Times reported last week that the individual is a male CIA agent. 

Trump, asked on Monday if he knows the person's identity, told reporters that the White House is "trying to find out."

He doubled down in a tweet on Tuesday, reiterating that he wants to meet the whistleblower.

"Why aren’t we entitled to interview & learn everything about the Whistleblower, and also the person who gave all of the false information to him," he tweeted.

Trump's rhetoric has sparked fierce backlash from congressional Democrats, who argue that he's trying to intimidate the whistleblower and potentially prevent other individuals from coming forward. 

At a press conference Wednesday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTrump allies throw jabs at Bolton over book's claims GOP senator plans to ask about Bidens, whistleblower in impeachment trial Parnas asks court for permission to turn over more evidence to Democrats MORE (D-Calif.) emphasized that whistleblower protections include the right to remain anonymous.

In addition to trying to identify the individual behind the Ukraine complaint, some Republicans have questioned the legitimacy of the person's status as a whistleblower. Sen. John CornynJohn CornynHillicon Valley: UK allows Huawei to build 5G in blow to Trump | Lawmakers warn decision threatens intel sharing | Work on privacy bill inches forward | Facebook restricts travel to China amid virus Republicans signal renewed confidence they'll avoid witness fight Lawmakers warn US, UK intel sharing at risk after Huawei decision MORE (R-Texas) questioned late last month if the individual was a "leaker," while Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottTrump legal team offers brisk opening defense of president Democrats worry Trump team will cherry-pick withheld documents during defense What to watch for on day 4 of the Senate impeachment trial MORE (R-S.C.) told reporters on Friday that the complaint was based on "hearsay." 

The inspector general pushed back on that, saying on Monday that the whistleblower had both firsthand information and information from others about the subject.

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Energy: Democrats unveil draft climate bill | Plan aims for carbon neutrality by 2050 | GOP senators press IRS on electric vehicle tax credit GOP senator: John Bolton should go public with what he knows GOP senators press IRS on enforcement of electric vehicle tax credit MORE (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus, defended the individual on Tuesday, saying they deserve to be "heard out and protected."

“This person appears to have followed the whistleblower protection laws and ought to be heard out and protected. We should always work to respect whistleblowers’ requests for confidentiality," Grassley said.