Rand Paul's Call for Release of Whistleblower's Identity Is 'Terribly Wrong and Harmful to the Country,' Senator Warns

Independent Senator Angus King slammed his colleague Rand Paul after the GOP senator publicly called for the media to release the identity of the anonymous whistleblower at the center of the fast-moving impeachment inquiry involving President Donald Trump's actions toward Ukraine.

Paul, who represents Kentucky, issued the call to the media on Monday evening during a Republican rally alongside Trump, ahead of elections in his state. "I say tonight to the media: Do your job and print his name," Paul told the crowd. The senator also asserted that "we also now know the name of the whistleblower," although he did not provide details of the person's identity.

"He didn't want to break the law directly on national television, so he requested that you [the media] do it," said King, who represents Maine, while criticizing Paul in an interview with CNN on Tuesday. "As you can tell, I'm a pretty mild-mannered guy, but this one—it just is infuriating," the senator added.

“He didn't want to break the law directly on national television so he requested that you do it… It’s terribly wrong and harmful to the country.” - @SenAngusKing on Sen. Rand Paul’s calls for the media to out the whistleblower who sparked the impeachment inquiry. https://t.co/mECHLQ0dhf

— New Day (@NewDay) November 5, 2019

King asserted that the identity of the whistleblower "doesn't matter," noting that there are now multiple credible witnesses who have corroborated and added new details about Trump's actions toward Ukraine. The senator also raised concerns, as have many others, about the whistleblower's safety.

"All they [the whistleblower] did was report what they were hearing. And now we've been hearing from the very people who can confirm those charges," he said. "And more and more evidence is coming out to confirm it. That's what's relevant to this investigation, not who this person is."

Referring to Paul's call for the whistleblower's identity to be released, King said, "I think it's just terribly wrong and harmful to the country."

Federal law protects whistleblowers, and government agencies have processes in place to allow for individuals to report concerns without fear of personal or professional reprisals. The inspector general involved with the whistleblower's complaint has said that the anonymous individual acted properly and that this has raised "credible" concerns. Democrats and other Trump critics have argued that the president and Republicans are now focusing on the whistleblower's identity as a distraction, as numerous individuals have testified to corroborate the original complaint.

Donald Trump and Rand Paul
President Donald Trump looks on as Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) speaks at a campaign rally at the Rupp Arena on November 4 in Lexington, Kentucky. Bryan Woolston/Getty

Mark Zaid, an attorney representing the whistleblower, has said that his client has offered to answer written questions from Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee under oath. This would allow the GOP members, who have claimed the impeachment inquiry is unfair, to directly ask the anonymous person questions and avoid Democratic leaders. But Zaid asserted that his client will not answer questions about his or her identity.

"Being a whistleblower is not a partisan job, nor is impeachment an objective. That is not our role," Zaid tweeted on Sunday.

Following Paul's comments on Monday, Zaid issued a statement to The Hill, saying: "A member of Congress who calls for the identity of any lawful whistleblower to be publicly revealed against their wishes disgraces the office they hold and betrays the interests of the Constitution and the American people."