08:07 GMT26 February 2020
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    Sen. Rand Paul on Tuesday read aloud on the Senate floor the question he unsuccessfully tried to ask during President Trump’s impeachment trial last week when it was blocked by Chief Justice John Roberts for allegedly naming the whistleblower.

    The question included the names of two individuals, including one person who has been reported to be the whistleblower who filed a complaint about Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

    “Now during the proceedings, I asked a question that was disallowed. And I’m going to ask that question again this morning because the Constitution does protect debate and does protect the asking of questions," the senator said. "I think they made a big mistake not allowing my question. My question did not talk about anybody who is a whistleblower. My question did not accuse anybody of being a whistleblower.”

    Paul said that he “simply named two people’s names,” before repeating the question,  naming the individuals one more time. He said that his reason for voicing the names was out of concern over a possible plot to take down the president, adding that he supports protections against reprisal for whistleblowers but not necessarily anonymity.

    “And you say, well we should protect the whistleblower, and the whistleblower deserves anonymity. The law does not preserve anonymity,” Paul said. “His boss is not supposed to say anything about him, he's not supposed to be fired. I'm for that. My point is, is by having such protection, such overzealous protection, we don't get to the root of the matter of how this started. ‘Cause this could happen again.”

    The whistleblower filed a complaint in August with intelligence community watchdog, Inspector General Michael Atkinson, regarding Trump’s call with Zelensky. Atkinson indicated that the whistleblower showed "some indicia of an arguable political bias," but after reviewing the complaint deemed it credible, triggering a requirement to transmit the complaint to Congress. The director of national intelligence, however, forwarded the complaint to the Justice Department, which overruled Atkinson's judgment and blocked the complaint from going to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. 

    In September, the complaint was subpoenaed by the House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who later acknowledged that his staff had been in contact with the whistleblower prior to his complaint to the inspector general. Schiff also initially indicated that his panel wanted to secure testimony from the whistleblower but later backed off that call after new witnesses came forward and offered more direct knowledge of the allegations against Trump.  The Republicans have insisted throughout the course of impeachment that they wanted to hear from the whistleblower, accusing Schiff and his team of conspiring against the president. The House Intelligence Committee chairman claimed that he reversed course on seeking the whistleblower's testimony in part because Trump had made threats against the whistleblower's sources.


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