Over the past couple years we’ve watched Republican Senator Rand Paul shift from loud Donald Trump detractor to cartoonish Donald Trump cheerleader. The shift has been so extreme, and so suspicious in nature, it’s led to widespread questions about just what Trump is holding over his head. Today Rand Paul appeared to confirm that whatever it is, he’d rather risk going to prison than risk getting on Trump’s bad side.
Rand Paul tried to submit a question in the Senate impeachment trial that included the name of an individual who has been accused by far-right media of being the Ukraine scandal whistleblower. It’s one thing for the media to dig up the alleged whistleblower’s name. But when a government official like Rand Paul outs a whistleblower for purely punitive reasons, that’s a felony – and it’s the kind you definitely go to prison for.
Chief Justice John Roberts refused to read the question aloud, for obvious reasons. So today, Rand Paul simply held a press conference and posed his question, which contained the name of the alleged whistleblower. Then just to leave no doubt, he also tweeted the name of the alleged whistleblower. It’s not a public figure or anyone you’ve heard of; there’s no reason to go look up the name. Paul is claiming that because his question didn’t specifically accuse the person of being the whistleblower, he didn’t actually out the person. But that’s not a defense that would hold up in court. We don’t even know if this person is the whistleblower, but because Paul clearly believes this person is the whistleblower (or else he wouldn’t be so obsessed with a relative nobody like this), he’s committing a felony violation.
At this point there’s little doubt that Rand Paul will be criminally indicted for a felony if Donald Trump loses the 2020 election. It’ll mean the end of Paul’s career, and likely the end of his freedom. Paul just basically bet his life on the weak odds of Trump getting reelected. So again, it raises the question: what is Trump holding over Rand Paul’s head that’s so awful, Rand would rather go to prison than risk Trump’s wrath?
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report