Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has spent a career using speeches on the Senate floor building a reputation as a maverick among Republicans on Capitol Hill.
But it was a question he never got to ask Thursday during President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate that’s putting Paul’s name in the headlines now.
At issue was the bizarre, continuing insistence by Democratic impeachment managers like Rep. Adam Schiff that they do not know the identity of the “whistleblower” whose accusations kicked off the whole impeachment effort.
Yet at the same time they continue to try to keep one particular name from being uttered aloud.
On Thursday afternoon, Chief Justice John Roberts tried to continue the conspiracy of silence, but Paul would not be stopped from speaking out.
The matter rose to a head when Paul — who had clashed with Roberts on the subject Wednesday, according to Fox News — submitted a written question containing the name of Eric Ciaramella, the former National Security Council aide who is widely believed to be the “whistlelower” who complained about Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Though the question was directed to both the House impeachment managers and the president’s defense team, it struck to the heart of the prosecution’s ginned-up case against Trump.
As Paul described it in a Twitter post: “My question today is about 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.”
He then tweeted what he said was the full question — complete with Ciaramella’s name:
and 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. 2/2
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) January 30, 2020
So Paul’s 2.6 million listed Twitter followers know Ciaramella’s name.
Countless millions of readers of conservative news sites such as The Western Journal, Breitbart and The Federalist, as well as the vast audiences of conservative radio giants Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin have heard the name.
It’s a safe bet that literally anyone in Washington who has followed the impeachment saga knows full well who Eric Ciaramella is, his role as the suspected “whistleblower” and the absurd lengths Democrats — and now the chief justice of the Supreme Court — are willing to go to pretend that no one knows who’s being talked about here.
And yet almost everyone — including the mainstream news outlets and their suffocatingly self-righteous correspondents — is going along with the charade that no one knows who the suspected “whistleblower” is.
Democrats who reach for their smelling salts every time Ciaramella’s name gets mentioned — or even alluded to — like to claim the identity of the “whistleblower” is protected by federal law.
But as constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley explained in a Twitter post shortly after Roberts’ decision on Thursday, it’s not nearly as cut and dried as liberals would like to believe.
“This is relatively uncharted because the reading of the name does not directly violate federal law,” Turley wrote. “It is a matter of decorum and restraint claimed by Roberts inherent authority.”
The Chief Justice again refused to read Paul’s question. This is relatively uncharted because the reading of the name does not directly violate federal law. It is a matter of decorum and restraint claimed by Roberts
inherent authority. https://t.co/7aoEta8RVw
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) January 30, 2020
Americans should well remember what sticklers Democrats are for decorum when it comes to Senate proceedings.
Remember how decorous liberals were during the Judiciary Committee hearings for Roberts’ now-colleague Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh?
Sometimes it was hard to hear for all the decorum coming from Democrats.
At a news conference after Roberts’ decision, Paul explained his rationale for the question.
“I think this is an important question, one that deserves to be asked. It makes no reference to anybody who may or may not be a whistleblower,” he said.
If the question Paul published on Twitter was indeed the question he had handed to Roberts on Thursday — and there’s no reason to think it isn’t — then it’s clear that Roberts has joined the Alice-in-Wonderland world of the impeachment hearings, where everyone must pretend not to know something that everyone knows.
If Democratic lawmakers and the chief justice were to admit they know who the “whistleblower” is, if they admitted they know what the name “Eric Ciaramella” signified, they might be forced to admit something else everyone knows:
That the impeachment trial of Trump is a sham, dreamed up by a bitter, intellectually dishonest and morally bankrupt political #Resistance that has been disgracing itself daily since the 2016 presidential election by defying the country’s tradition of a peaceful transition of power.
As of Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham appeared to be siding with Roberts on the issue of McConnell’s name, according to The Hill.
So they both have earned the benefit of the doubt.
But the mental gymnastics surrounding the censorship of the name “Eric Ciaramella” constitute the kind of farce that’s turning the drama of impeachment into the theater of the absurd.
After all, by objecting to the use of the name Eric Ciaramella on the grounds that the identity of the “whistleblower” must be protected, logic would dictate that the objection identifies Ciaremalla as the “whistleblower” after all.
It might upset “decorum,” but sometimes it takes a maverick like Rand Paul to get to the truth.