Senate Ethics Complaint Filed Against Rand Paul for Repeated Mention of Alleged Ukraine Whistleblower’s Name

If you can’t beat ’em, persecute ’em. A lawfare ethics complaint has been filed with the Senate against Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) for his repeated mention of the name of the alleged Ukraine whistleblower during the course of the impeachment trial of President Trump. The complaint accuses Paul of criminal acts and endangering the alleged whistleblower.

Paul posed a question for the House Managers and the President’s legal team that was twice rejected by presiding officer Chief Justice John Roberts–once verbally from the chair–over two successive days. Paul then held a press conference where he read his question aloud. Paul also published the question on Twitter. Later during a break in the trial when senators gave speeches about the trial leading up to the votes on the articles of impeachment, Paul read his question on the Senate floor accompanied by a posterboard with the text of the question.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) reads censored impeachment trial question at a press conference, January 30, screen image.

Sen. Paul reads censored impeachment trial question on the Senate floor, February 4, screen image.

Paul’s 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 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?”

Paul added, “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….My question is not about a “whistleblower” as I have no independent information on his identity. My question is about the actions of known Obama partisans within the NSC and House staff and how they are reported to have conspired before impeachment proceedings had even begun.”

CIA analyst Eric Ciaramella has been named as the whistleblower in some media reports, however that has not been confirmed. Nevertheless, mere mention of his name has been censored and brings bogus threats of prosecution–or in Paul’s case an ethics complaint.


Excerpts from the four page ethics complaint filed by whistleblower “expert” Tom Mueller

February 7, 2020
Chairman James Lankford
Ranking Member Christopher Coons

Senate Select Committee on Ethics
220 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Re: The Misconduct of Senator Rand Paul During the Impeachment Trial of the President

Dear Chairman Lankford and Ranking Member Coons:

Senator Rand Paul defied the rules of the Senate and engaged in improper conduct that is unethical and unbecoming of a Senator. Last week, Senator Paul submitted a question in the impeachment trial of President Donald John Trump that illegally and dangerously named a government whistleblower. Senator Paul compounded his criminal conduct by then publicizing his question after it was rejected by Chief Justice John Roberts. Senator Paul then doubled down
on his inappropriate conduct by publicly displaying a card with the alleged whistleblower’s name on it on the Senate Floor in front of public cameras. I submit this complaint requesting a full review by the Senate Select Committee on Ethics.

…Senator Paul’s actions constituted a retaliatory outing of a government witness—which is criminal conduct. Federal criminal law prohibits the obstruction of justice, and provides that “[w]hoever knowingly, with the intent to retaliate, takes any action harmful to any person, including interference with the lawful employment or livelihood of any person, for providing to a law enforcement officer any truthful information relating to the commission or possible commission of any Federal offense, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.”7 Courts have regularly found that outing a whistleblower in online media—exactly what Senator Paul did here—can constitute such criminal retaliatory action.8

The obstruction of justice statute is intended to protect the safety of whistleblowers. Senator Paul’s conduct provides a sadly apt example of why such a statute is necessary. By naming an otherwise anonymous person through the public press and the public forum of Twitter, Senator Paul created the real possibility that this person will confront threats of violence.9 Whether or not the named individual was in fact the whistleblower, as Senator Paul claimed, is irrelevant to this concern. A senator charged with the safety and security of the nation should not be purposefully placing a citizen in harm’s way for no public purpose.

This dangerous conduct is not protected by the special constitutional protections provided to members of the Senate. The “Speech and Debate Clause” protects members from being “questioned in any other Place . . . for any Speech or Debate in either House.10 Court decisions have clarified that such protections extend only to legislative activity, as the purpose of the clause is to protect the free and full expression of congresspeople during such activity.11 There is no way to construe Senator Paul’s public outing of the whistleblower as conducive to legislative debate. The naming of a private citizen, in public and not on the Senate floor, is not legislative
activity.

Indeed, Senator Paul’s retaliatory conduct degrades Congress’s role as a co-equal branch of government constitutionally empowered to protect whistleblowers from reprisal by the Executive Branch…

In the past, the Senate Select Committee on Ethics has admonished members who fail to meet the higher standards expected of a U.S. Senator.12 Senator Paul’s conduct reflects poorly on the Senate. His behavior violates the bipartisan consensus that whistleblowers deserve protection, which is explicated in numerous laws and regulations13 including those that specifically prohibit outing a whistleblower as illegal retaliation.14 “Whistleblowers bring
accountability to government” were the wise words of the Chairman of the bipartisan Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus.15

And if accountability in government means anything, a senator who defies a Presiding Officer’s ruling—here the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court—and flouts Senate rules should be held accountable. Senator Paul surely understood the possible ethical ramifications of his disclosure. In fact, a fellow senator observed: “Certainly under our ethics rules, there will be potential consequences.”16 There should be appropriate consequences for Senator Paul.

I ask that the Senate Select Committee on Ethics undertake an appropriate investigation to address this unethical and improper conduct.

The complete ethics complaint can be found at this link.

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