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

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSherrod Brown calls Rand Paul 'kind of a lunatic' for not wearing mask Overnight Health Care: WHO-backed Covax gets a boost from Moderna Vaccine hesitancy among lawmakers slows return to normalcy on Capitol Hill MORE (R-Ky.) said this week that the whistleblower at the center of the impeachment inquiry against President TrumpDonald TrumpCaitlyn Jenner on Hannity touts Trump: 'He was a disruptor' Ivanka Trump doubles down on vaccine push with post celebrating second shot Conservative Club for Growth PAC comes out against Stefanik to replace Cheney 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 backs Stefanik to replace Cheney Gender politics hound GOP in Cheney drama Senate Intel vows to 'get to the bottom' of 'Havana syndrome' attacks 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 CornynCornyn is most prolific tweeter in Congress so far in 2021 Schumer 'exploring' passing immigration unilaterally if talks unravel Trump muddles Republican messaging on Afghanistan MORE (R-Texas) questioned late last month if the individual was a "leaker," while Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottTexas Republicans condemn state Democrats for response to official calling Scott an 'Oreo' What's really going on down in Georgia Local Texas Democratic chair apologizes for calling Sen. Scott an 'Oreo' 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 GrassleyChuck GrassleyGrassley asks Blinken to provide potential conflicts involving John Kerry Overnight Defense: Gillibrand makes new push for military sexual assault reform | US troops begin leaving Afghanistan | Biden budget delay pushes back annual defense policy bill Gillibrand makes new push for military sexual assault reform 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.