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

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulConservative pundit says YouTube blocked interview with Rand Paul These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 I'm furious about Democrats taking the blame — it's time to fight back MORE (R-Ky.) said this week that the whistleblower at the center of the impeachment inquiry against President TrumpDonald TrumpDeputy AG: DOJ investigating fake Trump electors Former Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz elected to Baseball Hall of Fame Overnight Health Care — Senators unveil pandemic prep overhaul 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 SchiffMask rules spark political games and a nasty environment in the House CIA says 'Havana syndrome' unlikely a result of 'worldwide campaign' by foreign power The Hill's Morning Report - Biden to make voting rights play in Atlanta 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 CornynSenators huddle on Russia sanctions as tensions escalate Momentum builds for new COVID-19 relief for businesses Senate panel advances bill blocking tech giants from favoring own products MORE (R-Texas) questioned late last month if the individual was a "leaker," while Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottSen. Tim Scott rakes in nearly million in fourth quarter These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Supreme Court allows lawsuits against Texas abortion ban 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 GrassleySmall ranchers say Biden letting them get squeezed These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Hillicon Valley — Senate panel advances major antitrust bill 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.