Senator Rand Paul took a flying leap onto a sinking ship last night at the Kentucky Trump 2020 rally by getting on stage and calling on the media to leak the name of the Ukraine scandal whistleblower, which he claimed to already know. Experts including a former GOP strategist are calling this loud demand illegal and a stark reversal of Paul’s previous stance on protecting whistleblowers.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, with Trump behind him and a roaring crowd of supporters in front, demanded the Ukraine call whistleblower's identity be revealed.— POLITICO (@politico) November 5, 2019
This comes after Trump made a veiled execution threat, suggesting "spies" should be handled like they were "in the old days" pic.twitter.com/PuPZXuVRTD
People who come forward to expose wrongdoing within government operations are shielded by the Whistleblower Protection Act, which makes it illegal for government officials to retaliate against these individuals or threaten to do so, as Trump has already done. Trump and select Republicans have been making the argument that they have a constitutional right to face their accusers, projecting a complete ignorance of whistleblower protection laws and the constitution in general.
However, ignorance is no excuse for Rand Paul, who has previously expressed support for whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and even proposed amendments designed to strengthen laws to protect them.
2019 Rand Paul, meanwhile, claimed to know the name of this particular whistleblower and dropped hints about his identity.
“The whistleblower needs to come before Congress as a material witness because he worked for Joe Biden at the same time Hunter Biden was getting money from corrupt oligarchs,” Paul claimed. “I say tonight to the media, do your job and print his name.”
Naming sources who want to remain anonymous, particularly whistleblowers whose jobs and lives could be at risk should they be named, is exactly not the media’s job.
Many experts quickly came forward to point out the shaky legal ground that Rand Paul is traipsing on here, including former GOP strategist Sophia Nelson, who went on CNN to state outright: “This is illegal.”
Dear United States Senator Rand Paul: read the whistleblower protections of 1777 & 1778 passed by the Continental Congress. And then read The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989, 5 USC 2302 the #Freepress should NOT reveal his or her name. It is a Federal CRIME to do so! https://t.co/qwziBEfRrE— Sophia A. Nelson (@IAmSophiaNelson) November 5, 2019
Republican Joe Walsh, who is running a 2020 campaign against Trump, also noticed the sudden change of heart from Rand Paul, and even went so far as to say that the senator has been “emasculated” by the president.
I call on Rand Paul to have the courage to immediately find the other Rand Paul. The Rand Paul I used to admire. The Rand Paul who wasn’t emasculated by Donald Trump. https://t.co/bWquqRMlgq— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) November 5, 2019
Dozens of other Republicans have broken with Paul and Trump over the whistleblower issue. Republican Senator Mitt Romney declared that “whistleblowers should be entitled to confidentially and privacy, because they play a vital function in our democracy.” Senate Majority Whip John Thune agreed, saying that “the whistleblower statute is there for a reason. And I think we need to respect the law where whistleblowers are concerned.”
CNN New Day anchors Alisyn Camerota and John Berman had some strong words for Paul on Tuesday morning. “He’s trying to get us to do his dirty work and say the name of the whistle-blower, which is illegal, said Camerota, adding, “If he knows it, why doesn’t he say it? I’ll tell you why he doesn’t say it. Don’t answer that. Because it’s illegal, and he knows that.”
“He’s a small man,” said Berman. “I have to tell you what he just did there was small and cowardly right there.”
Some, including the late Senator John McCain, believe that Rand Paul’s recent position reversals are due to the fact that he no longer works for the U.S. people, but for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Why is Rand Paul acting so strange?— Amy Siskind 🏳️🌈 (@Amy_Siskind) November 5, 2019
“All roads lead to Putin.”https://t.co/17GuzXRR8e
Hope the Rubles are worth it, Rand.