Chief Justice John Roberts has communicated to senators that he will not read aloud the alleged Ukraine whistleblower’s name or otherwise publicly relay questions that might out the official, a move that’s effectively blocked Sen. Rand Paul from asking a question.
In a behind-the-scenes fight, Paul, a Kentucky Republican, has composed questions that violate Roberts’s edict, according to several Republicans familiar with the dynamics. It’s a vintage Rand Paul effort that’s annoying fellow Republicans and could come to a head on Thursday.
Paul – who has strongly opposed the impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump – has been floating the alleged whistleblower’s name in media interviews for months.
But Roberts signaled to GOP senators on Tuesday that he wouldn’t allow the whistleblower’s name to be mentioned during the question-and-answer session that started the following day, said the sources. Robert was allowed to screen senators’ questions before they were submitted for reading on the Senate floor, the sources noted.
And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other top Republicans are also discouraging the whistleblower’s identity from being disclosed as well. Paul has submitted at least one question with the name of a person believed to be the whistleblower, although it was rejected. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) composed and asked a question regarding the whistleblower earlier Wednesday that tiptoed around identifying the source who essentially sparked the House’s impeachment drive.
“We’ve got members who, as you have already determined I think, have an interest in questions related to the whistleblower,” Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) said. “But I suspect that won’t happen, I don’t think that happens. And I guess I would hope it doesn’t.”
Paul has complained that he is being preventing from asking a question about the origin of the Ukraine investigation, although he didn’t get into specifics with reporters on Wednesday evening.
“It’s still an ongoing process, it may happen tomorrow,” Paul told reporters.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) first revealed the existence of the whistleblower complaint publicly in mid-September, when he subpoenaed the document from the director of national intelligence and accused acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire — under the influence of the White House — from preventing it from reaching Congress.
But Republicans allege that Schiff and his staff improperly interacted with the alleged whistleblower, who worked at the National Security Council when Joe Biden was vice president.
House Republicans threatened to out the whistleblower during impeachment hearings in that chamber, and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) identified a person believed to be the whistleblower in the Judiciary Committee, although Gohmert didn’t identify him as the whistleblower during the exchange.
Kyle Cheney contributed to this story.