During the Senate impeachment trial Thursday, Chief Justice John Roberts declined to read a question submitted by Sen. Rand Paul which included the name of Eric Ciaramella, the man RealClear Investigations has identified as the whistleblower at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.
The Kentucky Republican submitted the question card, and after reading it, Roberts replied, “The presiding officer declines to read the question as submitted.” Paul’s question did not use the term whistleblower or identify Ciaramella as the whistleblower.
Senator @RandPaul sends question to the desk during Impeachment Trial.
Chief Justice Roberts: "The presiding officer declines to read the question as submitted." pic.twitter.com/CCeB33HnRP
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 30, 2020
Paul then took to Twitter, disclosing his question. “My exact question was: Are you aware that House intelligence committee staffer Shawn Misko had a close relationship with Eric Ciaramella while at the National Security Council together,” Paul stated, “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.”
My exact question was:
Are you aware that House intelligence committee staffer Shawn Misko had a close relationship with Eric Ciaramella while at the National Security Council together 1/2
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) January 30, 2020
Paul said his question was not in regard to the whistleblower’s ID, but about whether leftover partisan Obama officials conspired with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, now the head impeachment manager in the Senate, to devise an impeachment scheme prior to the beginning of the proceedings.
“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,” Paul tweeted. “My question is not about a ‘whistleblower’ as I have no independent information on his identity.”
In the case of Roberts blocking Paul’s question, a broader issue looms about the equity of an unelected judge brazenly censoring an elected representative in the discharge of his senatorial duties.
Paul, who during his time in the Senate has often broken with Trump on policy, has backed the president on impeachment, telling Politico he would force the upper chamber to vote on Trump’s preferred witnesses, including Hunter Biden and Ciaramella, if four or more of his fellow Senate Republicans sided with Democrats in calling for new witnesses.
“My first preference would be to be done with it as soon as possible and not to have any witnesses,” Paul said. “If they insist on having people like [John] Bolton coming forward, my insistence will be not just one witness. But that the president should be able to call any witnesses that he deems necessary to his defense.”