UPDATED 6:43 AM PT — Friday, January 31, 2020
The Senate is set to conclude closing arguments in the impeachment trial with Republicans hoping to close out the proceedings before the weekend. On Friday, House managers and President Trump’s legal team will each have two hours to finish their arguments before the Senate prepares to vote on whether to call witnesses.
Democrats need to gain the favor of at least four members of the GOP in order to put that process in motion. They have been pushing for the testimony of former National Security Adviser John Bolton and Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney among others.
If that resolution is killed, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will likely call a vote to end the proceedings. One senator who has vowed to vote against witnesses, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), is one of the many GOP senators who want to see an end to the trial.
For a second time during the Q&A sessions of the Senate impeachment trial, Chief Justice John Roberts shut down questions from Sen. Paul, drawing a red-line on submissions surrounding the White House whistleblower’s suspected identity.
“The presiding officer declines to read the question as submitted,” stated Chief Justice Roberts.
While taking to Twitter after the denial, Sen. Paul defended his inquiry by stating this question was, in fact, “not about a whistleblower.”
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.
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) January 30, 2020
The Kentucky lawmaker proceeded to further explain his rejected question to reporters on Capitol Hill. He made the following comments:
“As you may have noticed, we had something slightly atypical downstairs. I ask a question and the question was refused. Now, it’s been reported that this questions is about this, or about that, and it’s been refused for one reason or another. I can tell you that my question made no reference to any whistleblower or any kind of person or a complaint from a whistleblower.”
Back on Twitter, Sen. Paul told his followers what his exact question was. He asked, “are you aware that House Intelligence Committee staffer Shawn Misko had a close relationship with Eric Ciaramella while at the National Security Council together?” He continued by asking, “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?”
On Wednesday, Chief Justice Roberts denied Sen. Paul’s first question by saying the naming of the alleged whistleblower will be permitted. Democrats and the whistleblower’s lawyers have argued that identifying the person could put their life in danger.
President Trump has repeatedly called the alleged informant a “traitor,” and has suggested he would like to confront his accuser, whoever they are, and put the individual on the witness stand under oath.