“Ultimately, if someone’s going to accuse you of something that’s going to bring down a presidency, I think we deserve to know who that person is,” Paul told reporters in Kentucky on Tuesday.
“I think there are reasons to have whistleblower statutes, and have anonymity. But if you’re accusing somebody of something with the ramifications of impeachment, I think really the person ought to come forward,” he added.
Trump, asked on Monday if he knows the person’s identity, told reporters that the White House is “trying to find out.”
He doubled down in a tweet on Tuesday, reiterating that he wants to meet the whistleblower.
“Why aren’t we entitled to interview & learn everything about the Whistleblower, and also the person who gave all of the false information to him,” he tweeted.
Trump’s rhetoric has sparked fierce backlash from congressional Democrats, who argue that he’s trying to intimidate the whistleblower and potentially prevent other individuals from coming forward.
At a press conference Wednesday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) emphasized that whistleblower protections include the right to remain anonymous.
In addition to trying to identify the individual behind the Ukraine complaint, some Republicans have questioned the legitimacy of the person’s status as a whistleblower. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) questioned late last month if the individual was a “leaker,” while Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) told reporters on Friday that the complaint was based on “hearsay.”
The inspector general pushed back on that, saying on Monday that the whistleblower had both firsthand information and information from others about the subject.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus, defended the individual on Tuesday, saying they deserve to be “heard out and protected.”
“This person appears to have followed the whistleblower protection laws and ought to be heard out and protected. We should always work to respect whistleblowers’ requests for confidentiality,” Grassley said.