Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) became the first U.S. Senator to use the name “Eric Ciaramella” in a public setting Wednesday — falling short of calling him the “whistleblower” linked to Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, as several reports have alleged.
Real Clear Investigations alleges Ciaramella, a CIA officer, filed the “whistleblower” complaint against President Donald Trump. During a live radio interview with Washington, DC, talk radio station WMAL, Mornings on the Mall co-host Vince Coglianese introduced Ciaramella’s name to the conversation, citing RealClearPolitics and journalist Yashar Ali, who have said that he is likely the individual behind the “whistleblower” complaint.
Asked if he believed this report, Paul said this individual is a “person of interest” who should be called before Congress as a “material witness” in the House’s ongoing impeachment inquiry.
Coglianese asked Paul: “Is it your understanding, Senator, that Eric Ciaramella is the whistleblower?”
The senator responded, “I think Eric Ciaramella needs to be pulled in for testimony and then, I think, it will be ultimately determined at that point. But I think he is a person of interest in the sense that he was at the Ukraine desk when Joe Biden was there, when Hunter Biden was working for the Ukrainian oligarch. So simply for that alone, I think he’s a material witness that needs to be brought in.”
LISTEN: Relevant discussion begins at 6:50:
RAND PAUL: The other question that I’m advocating that the House ask is Vindman, I think, did talk to the whistleblower. He hasn’t admitted it, but he said he did talk to two people outside of the White House. The real question I have is, is that against the law. Was the whistleblower legally allowed to hear the information on the President’s phone call? If he wasn’t, then the question is whether or not Vindman broke the law in actually talking to the whistleblower.
VINCE COGLIANESE: Senator Rand Paul, a week ago you were calling on the media to name the whistleblower, saying, look, you’ve got the name, just name him. And we’ve seen a report in RealClearPolitics that the guy is Eric Ciaramella. We’ve also seen journalist Yashar Ali claim he has three anonymous sources who’ve confirmed that it’s Eric Ciaramella. Is it your understanding, Senator, that Eric Ciaramella is the whistleblower?
RAND PAUL: I think Eric Ciaramella needs to be pulled in for testimony and then, I think, it will be ultimately determined at that point. But I think he is a person of interest in the sense that he was at the Ukraine desk when Joe Biden was there, when Hunter Biden was working for the Ukrainian oligarch. So simply for that alone, I think he’s a material witness that needs to be brought in.
The other question is, while the whistleblower is protected from being fired and from retaliation and, I think, from court proceedings, the whistleblower is not protected from being asked who gave him information. Because we can’t have a country where the private contents of the president’s phone calls are leaked to people who are not supposed to be in that loop. And so I think all these questions have to be asked. I don’t think the whistleblower statute was ever intended to have criminal trials of people and people put before the penalty of criminal justice without being able to hear from their accusers.
I think that, ultimately, he should testify. I think Adam Schiff is going to prevent it in the House. In the Senate, I will be advocating — if it comes to the Senate, we haven’t had a vote yet on what the rules will be. By a simple majority, we can make the rules in the Senate and we should make the rules such that the president is allowed to call all his witnesses. And then, ultimately, it is up to the president. He needs to call and tell us who he wants to have brought in as witnesses.
Paul is the third U.S. lawmaker to use Ciaramella’s name in public. In late October, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) named Ciaramella in an open hearing for the House Natural Resources, with no explanation of who he was aside from his involvement in “the Obama National Security Council.”
This week, Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC) named Ciaramella on his Twitter account, writing, “he’s not a bona fide whistleblower. Even if he were, he wouldn’t be entitled to secrecy. Eric Ciamarella [sic] is a deep state conspirator. He needs to testify now.”
The growing list of U.S. lawmakers linking Ciaramella to the impeachment inquiry and the “whistleblower” complaint places social media “masters of the universe” like Facebook and Twitter in a bind. Facebook has banned any articles including his name, telling Breitbart News in a statement, “We are removing any and all mentions of the potential whistleblower’s name and will revisit this decision should their name be widely published in the media or used by public figures in debate.” Now, Facebook will need to justify suppressing statements from a sitting U.S. Senator to uphold the standing policy.