U.S. Sen. Rand Paul said Monday that while he “probably wouldn’t have done the phone call” at the heart of the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, he also believes the president took a “reasonable” approach in speaking with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
The Bowling Green Republican drew attention last week after news outlets reported that he publicly said the name of a whistleblower who disclosed details of the July phone call, in which Trump asked the Ukrainian president to investigate 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who sat on the board of one of Ukraine’s largest natural gas companies during the time Joe Biden served as vice president.
Democrat-led House impeachment investigators are now probing whether that phone call involved Trump withholding congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine in an effort to obtain information on the Bidens for the president’s political benefit, rather than in the interest of national security.
At the end of a business roundtable discussion Monday at Sumitomo Electric Wiring Systems in Bowling Green, Paul argued that setting conditions for aid is reasonable.
“I’m not into the idea of adding conditions to aid, even though adding condition for aid is a reasonable thing, but I probably wouldn’t have done the phone call because I think it is more important to spend the money here at home,” he said. “I think people are caught up on whether it was a quid quo pro or not. I think all aid is conditioned on behavior. The law conditions aid on behavior. So, if the president wanted to say, ‘We want you to investigate the Bidens for corruption,’ I think that is well within the purview of his office.”
Paul stood by his previous statements to other media outlets that the whistleblower, who has not been formally identified publicly, should come forward. While there is no law preventing his or her identity from being revealed, he or she is subject to protections against retaliation under the federal Whistleblower Protection Act.
“There’s nothing in the statute that says he can’t or that he shouldn’t testify if there’s a trial,” Paul said. “Really what he has come forward with isn’t secret information. He came forward with his opinion. His opinion is that you shouldn’t threaten Ukraine’s aid to get investigation of the Bidens. That’s an opinion. It goes back to if we should have an impeachment based on an opinion.
“I think he should testify. I think also he should testify because the word out there is that he also worked for Joe Biden at the time and Hunter Biden was being paid by the Ukrainian oligarch. If he (the whistleblower) traveled with Joe Biden, he should be asked if there was a conflict of interest with Hunter Biden or if he was aware or suspicious of corruption with Hunter Biden making $50,000 a month (from the natural gas company). He doesn’t deserve to be protected from scrutiny and questions just because he is sort of hiding behind this (whistleblower) statute.”
Paul also criticized the ongoing House impeachment inquiry, calling it “unfair” and questioning the decisions of U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
“I mean, right now, Adam Schiff is vetoing witnesses,” Paul said. “He’s not letting the president’s side bring in witnesses. He’s cutting off Republicans from debate.”
It’s true that there is disagreement between Schiff and Republicans about who should be allowed to testify from a list of potential witnesses submitted this month by the GOP, but the White House has also made efforts to prevent certain witnesses from appearing, such as acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national intelligence adviser John Bolton.
Meanwhile, Republican members of the House committees involved in the inquiry have attended closed-door depositions and Republicans are being given equal time to question witnesses in the public hearings.
Paul also argued that Trump has a “Sixth Amendment right to confront his accusers. That is an important part of the Constitution and just because he’s the president doesn’t mean he should give up on that.”
According to the Constitution, Trump’s Sixth Amendment rights are not applicable until the impeachment process reaches the Senate trial stage.
“The impeachment process is unfolding as outlined in the Constitution, which gives the House the sole power to impeach and the Senate the sole power to remove a president from office ... ,” The Associated Press explained in an analysis of the impeachment process. “The hearings led by the House Intelligence Committee are akin to the investigative phase of criminal cases, generally conducted in private and without the participation of the person under investigation.
“In future House Judiciary Committee hearings that presumably would result in the drafting of impeachment articles, Trump would be invited to attend and his lawyers could question witnesses and object to testimony and evidence, similar to the process in the impeachment proceedings against Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. If there is a Senate trial, Trump’s legal team would defend the president against impeachment articles approved by the House in an environment that would look like a typical trial in some respects.”
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