Rand Paul to 'insist' on whistleblower question blocked by John Roberts

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulMcConnell: Impeachment distracted government from coronavirus threat Warren knocks McConnell for forcing in-person Senate vote amid coronavirus pandemic House chairwoman diagnosed with 'presumed' coronavirus infection MORE (R-Ky.) on Thursday will try to force Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to read out loud a question regarding the anonymous whistleblower at the center of the impeachment inquiry.

Paul’s strategy, outlined on Twitter by his spokesman, will escalate a standoff between the two men on the Senate floor after much behind-the-scenes haggling.

“Senator Paul will insist on his question being asked during today’s trial. Uncertain of what will occur on the Senate floor, but American people deserve to know how this all came about,” Sergio Gor, a spokesman for Paul, tweeted.

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Paul’s office indicated in a subsequent release that they were unsure whether the effort would be successful, but said “Paul believes it is crucial the American people get the full story on what started the Democrats’ push to impeach President Donald Trump.”

A source confirmed Wednesday that Roberts has indicated he would not read a question from Paul regarding the whistleblower.

The question from Paul is expected to name the individual. Because Roberts is responsible for reading the questions aloud, that would put him in the position of publicly outing the person on the floor of the Senate.

The whistleblower has been a focus of GOP criticism for months, with President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden campaign: Trump and former vice president will have phone call about coronavirus Esper: Military personnel could help treat coronavirus patients 'if push comes to shove' Schumer calls for military official to act as medical equipment czar MORE last year saying the individual was "close to a spy."

Conservatives used a series of questions on Wednesday to try to shed new information on the whistleblower.

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GOP Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenator Tom Coburn's government oversight legacy Trump on Romney's negative coronavirus test: 'I am so happy I can barely speak' Romney says he tested negative for coronavirus, will remain in quarantine MORE (Utah), Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzFlorida sheriff asks for new leads in disappearance of Carole Baskin's former husband after Netflix's 'Tiger King' drops Ted Cruz jokes about quarantine boredom, 'Tiger King' Trump faces mounting pressure to unleash Defense Production Act MORE (Texas) and Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyLawmakers press IRS to get coronavirus checks to seniors Democrats eye additional relief checks for coronavirus Cruise lines excluded from Senate's trillion stimulus bill MORE (Mo.) asked for details on who the whistleblower might have worked with.

Roughly 50 minutes later, Cruz, Hawley and Sen. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranRand Paul's coronavirus diagnosis sends shockwaves through Senate Sinema criticizes Paul for alleged behavior ahead of coronavirus test results: 'Absolutely irresponsible' Hillicon Valley: Facebook, Twitter dismantle Russian interference campaign targeting African Americans | YouTube to allow ads on coronavirus videos | Trump signs law banning federal funds for Huawei equipment MORE (R-Kan.) asked the House managers if the whistleblower worked for or with former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden campaign: Trump and former vice president will have phone call about coronavirus Overnight Health Care: Trump resists pressure for nationwide stay-at-home order | Trump open to speaking to Biden about virus response | Fauci gets security detail | Outbreak creates emergency in nursing homes 16 things to know today about coronavirus outbreak MORE.

None of those questions revealed the individual's identity. 

Some GOP senators indicated they were not supportive of questions that would name the whistleblower.

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneTrump's magical thinking won't stop the coronavirus pandemic Lawmakers brace for more coronavirus legislation after trillion bill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Airbnb - Senate overcomes hurdles, passes massive coronavirus bill MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Republican senator, suggested that GOP leadership had not been involved in rejecting questions, but that he did not expect the whistleblower to be named on the floor during the impeachment trial.

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"I don't think that happens, and I guess I would hope that it doesn't," he told reporters Wednesday.

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump says he's considering restricting travel to coronavirus 'hot spots' Coronavirus crisis scrambles 2020 political calculus Trump reviews Pelosi on morning TV: 'She wasn't bad' MORE (R-S.C.) told reporters on Thursday that he didn’t think the impeachment trial was the setting for Paul’s whistleblower fight. 

“Not in this environment,” he said, asked if he thought the question was a good idea.