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

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulMultiple lawmakers self-quarantine after exposure to Gohmert Gohmert tests positive for COVID-19 Republican senators revolt over coronavirus proposal MORE (R-Ky.) said this week that the whistleblower at the center of the impeachment inquiry against President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House sued over lack of sign language interpreters at coronavirus briefings Wife blames Trump, lack of masks for husband's coronavirus death in obit: 'May Karma find you all' Trump authorizes reduced funding for National Guard coronavirus response through 2020 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.

ADVERTISEMENT
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 SchiffHouse Intelligence panel opens probe into DHS's involvement in response to protests Democrats exit briefing saying they fear elections under foreign threat Nunes declines to answer if he received information from Ukraine lawmaker meant to damage Biden 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 CornynThis week: Negotiators hunt for coronavirus deal as August break looms Frustration builds as negotiators struggle to reach COVID-19 deal Chamber of Commerce endorses Ernst for reelection MORE (R-Texas) questioned late last month if the individual was a "leaker," while Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottLobbyists see wins, losses in GOP coronavirus bill Revered civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis lies in state in the Capitol GOP plan would boost deduction for business meals 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 GrassleySenate GOP divided over whether they'd fill Supreme Court vacancy  Republicans dismiss Trump proposal to delay election Timeline for GOP's Obama probe report slips as chairman eyes subpoenas 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.