After being very publicly rebuffed by Chief Justice John Roberts last week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) finally outed the purported Ukraine whistleblower on the Senate floor. Paul not only read aloud the question Roberts had previously refused to ask in order to protect the alleged whistleblower’s identity, he also had the name printed and displayed on a large placard placed next to him. The maneuver, which Paul somehow blamed on the chief justice, sparked immediate backlash and harsh vitriol from the legal community–many of whom said Paul was endangering the person’s safety.
“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 whistleblower, it did not make a statement believing that someone was a whistleblower. I simply named two people’s names because I think it’s very important to know what happened,” Paul said before.
When questioned as to why he publicly outed the name of the supposed whistleblower, Paul refused to accept accountability for it, claiming any culpability belonged to Roberts.
“I would say the Chief Justice did that. By not allowing the question – he’s sort of confirming to the public who it is. I have no idea who it is. I don’t have any independent information,” Paul said to CNN’s Manu Raju.
I just asked him about singling out the alleged whistleblower. “I would say the Chief Justice did that. By not allowing the question – he’s sort of confirming to the public who it is. I have no idea who it is. I don’t have any independent information,” Paul said
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 4, 2020
The alleged whistleblower, whose name still has not been published by mainstream news outlets, filed a complaint about President Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine’s president into announce politically advantageous investigations into the Biden family. Impeachment soon followed.
“This is utterly disgraceful. And for Rand to blame his own misconduct on the Chief Justice is disgraceful as well,” anti-Trump attorney George Conway said in response to Paul’s actions. That sentiment was echoed and compounded by former federal prosecutor and Washington Post columnist Harry Litman. He said Paul did something unlawful and cowardly; there were many other adjectives.
Really really disgraceful. and unlawful. and dangerous. and pusillanimous. and petty. and Trumpian. and asinine. and ugly. and, hopefully, sanctionable. https://t.co/ANFow9AJHl
— Harry Litman (@harrylitman) February 4, 2020
MSNBC contributor and former federal prosecutor Joyce White Vance similarly insinuated that Paul’s stunt was an act of cowardice, noting that he was using the Constitution’s Speech or Debate clause as a shield while rebuking the chief justice and endangering the safety of legally protected whistleblower.
There is immunity for comments on the Senate floor (speech & debate immunity), which I'd guess is why he's thumbing his nose at the Chief Justice & the entire whistleblower community & people who care about fighting fraud & abuse, in this way.
— Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) February 4, 2020
CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti also remarked on the Speech or Debate clause.
Rand Paul is doing this because the Speech or Debate clause of the Constitution shields him from liability for his speech on the Senate floor. https://t.co/e0axgfWysw
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) February 4, 2020
Still others said Paul made a “malicious attempt to get someone killed.”
This is just a malicious attempt to get someone killed, so that @RandPaul can combine his hatred of the intelligence community with a nice opportunity to suck up to Donald Trump. https://t.co/R1yTrLnnbh
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) February 4, 2020
The most ruthless response came from national security attorney Bradley P. Moss, a partner at a law firm that often represents whistleblowers from both sides of the political aisle.
“[Rand Paul] you are not worthy of the office you hold, and are a disgrace to the Senate,” Moss wrote. “It is disgusting that you continue to try to either expose the whistleblower or, possibly worse, subject an innocent party to unrelenting political smears and personal attacks. Resign.”
.@RandPaul you are not worthy of the office you hold, and are a disgrace to the Senate. It is disgusting that you continue to try to either expose the whistleblower or, possibly worse, subject an innocent party to unrelenting political smears and personal attacks.
— Bradley P. Moss (@BradMossEsq) February 4, 2020
Moss’s colleague Mark Zaid is one of the attorneys who represented the Ukraine whistleblower. Moss is not involved with the case, but has nonetheless received death threats.
[image via C-SPAN screengrab]