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

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Pence says Turkey agrees to ceasefire | Senators vow to move forward with Turkey sanctions | Mulvaney walks back comments tying Ukraine aid to 2016 probe On The Money: Senate fails to override Trump veto over border emergency | Trump resort to host G-7 next year | Senators to push Turkey sanctions despite ceasefire | McConnell tees up funding votes Top Foreign Relations senators introduce Turkey sanctions bill MORE (R-Ky.) said this week that the whistleblower at the center of the impeachment inquiry against President TrumpDonald John TrumpPelosi arrives in Jordan with bipartisan congressional delegation Trump says his Doral resort will no longer host G-7 after backlash CNN's Anderson Cooper mocks WH press secretary over Fox News interview 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 SchiffWhite House staggers after tumultuous 48 hours Trump embarks on Twitter spree amid impeachment inquiry, Syria outrage House Republicans 'demand the release of the rules' on impeachment 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 CornynTrump slams 'very dumb' O'Rourke for proposals on guns, tax exempt status for churches GOP cautions Graham against hauling Biden before Senate Succession at DHS up in the air as Trump set to nominate new head MORE (R-Texas) questioned late last month if the individual was a "leaker," while Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottBlood cancer patients deserve equal access to the cure Rand Paul: 'We deserve to know' identity of Trump whistleblower Bottom Line 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 GrassleyState cites 38 people for violations in Clinton email review Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle mourn Cummings GOP cautions Graham against hauling Biden before Senate 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.