WASHINGTON — Sen. Rand Paul on Thursday tried to ask a question that may identify the whistleblower whose complaint sparked President Trump’s impeachment — but Chief Justice John Roberts refused to read it.
“The presiding officer declines to read the question as submitted,” Roberts said after reading the Kentucky Republican’s written query during Trump’s impeachment trial.
It was the first time during the question-and-answer phase of the trial that Roberts declined to read a question.
Paul later read aloud his proposed question to reporters.
“Manager Schiff and counsel for the president, are you aware that House Intelligence Committee staffer Sean Misko has a close relationship with Eric Ciaramella when at the National Security Council together?” he asked.
“Are you aware, and how do you respond to reports that Ciaramella and Misko may have worked together to plot impeaching the president before there were formal House impeachment proceedings?” Paul continued.
Multiple media reports have identified Ciaramella as the whistleblower, whose identities are generally protected to encourage others to come forward, although some have argued that the federal protections under law only extend to a whistleblower’s employment.
But Paul insisted his question “makes no reference to anybody who may or may not be a whistleblower.”
Instead, he asserted, he was interested in whether the duo were part of an Obama-Biden cabal out to get Trump.
“I think it’s very important whether or not a group of Democratic activists, part of the Obama-Biden administration, were working together for years looking for an opportunity to impeach the president.”
Paul was heard complaining on the Senate floor Wednesday night about Roberts.
“I don’t want to have to stand up to try and fight for recognition,” Paul reportedly fumed from the floor. “If I have to fight for recognition, I will.”
On Thursday, he told The Post: “We have a question at one o’clock. Come up to the gallery, it will be fun to watch.”
Senators’ questions continued for a second day before they address the question of whether to call witnesses such as former national security adviser John Bolton and possibly Hunter Biden.
Without witnesses, Republicans, who control the Senate, say the trial could end as early as Friday with Trump’s acquittal, which would leave him in office and allow him to claim vindication just as the Democratic Party holds its first presidential nominating contest in Iowa on Monday.
Trump will hold a rally in the state on Thursday night.
Democrats accuse the Republican president of abusing his power by using congressionally approved military aid as leverage to get a foreign power to smear Joe Biden, a leading contender for the Democratic nomination.
The Democratic-led House approved the two articles of impeachment in December.
On Friday, each side was expected to present what amount to closing arguments before the Senate moves to the central question of whether to call witnesses.
Democrats believe they are essential to shed more light on Trump’s attempt to persuade Ukraine President Volodmyr Zelensky to investigate Biden.
Republicans want to avoid calling witnesses, and the White House has also made efforts to block testimony and the release of additional documents
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