WASHINGTON (AP) — Chief Justice John Roberts has declined to read an impeachment trial question by Republican Sen. Rand Paul about the intelligence community whistleblower whose complaint led to the investigation into President Donald Trump.
Paul, of Kentucky, has said he believes the whistleblower may have conspired with House staff aides in writing the August whistleblower complaint.
“The presiding officer declines to read the question as submitted,” Roberts announced Thursday during the trial. The chief justice did not say what was in the note.
Earlier, Roberts’ staff communicated to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s staff that Roberts did not want to read the whistleblower’s name, according to a Republican familiar with the situation who wasn’t authorized to speak on the record.
Paul said on Twitter after Roberts declined to read his note that the question involved “whether or not individuals who were holdovers from the Obama National Security Council and Democrat partisans conspired with Schiff staffers to plot impeaching the President before there were formal House impeachment proceedings.” That was a reference to House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who led the impeachment inquiry.
Paul left the Senate impeachment proceeding to hold a news conference on the topic. He claimed his question was not aimed at outing the whistleblower.
“I don’t know who the whistleblower is. Adam Schiff doesn’t know who the whistleblower is. My question’s not about the whistleblower,” Paul said. “My question’s about two people who were friends who worked together at the National Security Council who have been overheard talking about impeaching the president years in advance.”
“Nowhere does he allege, nor does he know if, any of them are the so-called ‘whistleblower,'” said Paul spokesman Sergio Gor.
U.S. whistleblower laws exist to protect the identity and careers of people who bring forward accusations of wrongdoing by government officials. Lawmakers in both parties have historically backed those protections.
The Associated Press typically does not reveal the identity of whistleblowers.