According to a new report from FoxNews, Senator Rand Paul is furious and may try to force the issue after being blocked from naming the alleged “whistleblower” by Justice Roberts.
Fox News reports Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts blocked Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul from posing a question during the Senate impeachment trial Wednesday that would have named the alleged whistleblower at the center of the case, Fox News is told — and Paul may try to force the issue during the question-and-answer session that begins Thursday afternoon.
Roberts, for now, has ball control because he actually receives the questions in note cards from senators, then reads the question aloud in the Senate chamber to be answered by either House Democratic managers or Trump’s defense team. But Fox News has learned Roberts may soon lose his grip on the proceedings amid a torrent of criticism both inside and outside the Senate.
The Federalist co-founder Sean Davis condemned what he called Roberts’ “arbitrary and unilateral censorship of senators and Senate business,” and reported that Roberts had initially sought to block even general questions of the intelligence community whistleblower.
When Republicans threatened a vote rebuking Roberts on the record, Davis reported, Roberts backed down and decided only to prohibit mentioning the whistleblower’s name.
A reporter for Roll Call observed that during a break in the trial Wednesday, Paul was fuming.
“I don’t want to have to stand up to try and fight for recognition,” Paul shouted, according to reporter Niels Lesniewski, who noted that Paul’s complaint was “audible from the galleries above the chamber.”
“If I have to fight for recognition, I will,” Paul said.
Asked by Fox News whether Paul, who has long raised concerns about possible intelligence community overreach, would press the issue during the upcoming question period, a spokesman for the senator told Fox News only, “tbd” — short for “to be determined.” Last year, Paul was vocal about wanting testimony from the whistleblower on the record.
Roberts, under the Constitution, presides over the impeachment trial. But the precise contours of his authority are not clearly established, and remain up for debate; Democrats have even said they will attempt a long-shot motion to give Roberts the unprecedented power to approve or reject witnesses, for example.
Federal law protects whistleblowers only from retaliation in the workplace, and does not ensure their anonymity; and Republicans have disputed whether this particular whistleblower would even qualify for those limited protections, saying his complaint concerns a policy dispute and does not allege criminal or civil wrongdoing by the president.
Republicans have sought more information on the whistleblower ever since the intelligence community’s internal watchdog found several indicators that the person might have a political bias. Fox News has previously reported the whistleblower is a registered Democrat and had a prior work history with a senior Democrat running for president.
The whistleblower’s attorney, Mark Zaid, openly admitted back in 2017 that a “coup” had started against the president from within the administration, and that CNN’s coverage would play a “key role” in the effort.
He also openly solicited intelligence community members to help impeach and “get rid” of Trump, years before Trump’s call with Urkaine’s leader that triggered the current impeachment proceedings.
Additionally, Zaid acknowledged that the whistleblower had contact with a prominent Democratic presidential contender, amid reporters that he had served closely with Joe Biden when he was vice president. Trump’s alleged pressure on Ukraine to investigate Biden is at the center of the current probe.