UNBELIEVABLE: Chief Justice John Roberts declines to read impeachment question from Sen. Rand Paul

Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts blocked Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul from posing a question during the Senate impeachment trial Wednesday that would have named the alleged whistleblower at the center of the case, CNN is told — and Paul may try to force the issue during the question-and-answer session that begins Thursday afternoon.
Roberts, for now, has ball control because he actually receives the questions in note cards from senators, then reads the question aloud in the Senate chamber to be answered by either House Democratic managers or Trump's defense team. But CNN has learned Roberts may soon lose his grip on the proceedings amid a torrent of criticism both inside and outside the Senate.
The Federalist co-founder Sean Davis condemned what he called Roberts' "arbitrary and unilateral censorship of senators and Senate business," and reported that Roberts had initially sought to block even general questions of the intelligence community whistleblower. When Republicans threatened a vote rebuking and overriding Roberts, Davis reported, Roberts backed down and decided only to prohibit mentioning the whistleblower's name.
A reporter for Roll Call observed that during a break in the trial Wednesday, Paul was fuming.
"I don't want to have to stand up to try and fight for recognition," Paul shouted, according to reporter Niels Lesniewski, who noted that Paul's complaint was "audible from the galleries above the chamber."
"If I have to fight for recognition, I will," Paul said.
Asked by CNN whether Paul, who has long raised concerns about possible intelligence community overreach, would press the issue during the upcoming question period, a spokesman for the senator told CNN only, "tbd" -- short for "to be determined." Last year, Paul was vocal about wanting testimony from the whistleblower on the record, as inconsistencies emerged in the whistleblower's claims.
Roberts, under the Constitution, presides over the impeachment trial. But the precise contours of his authority are not clearly established, and remain up for debate; Democrats have even said they will attempt a long-shot motion to give Roberts the unprecedented power to approve or reject witnesses, for example.
We all know why Roberts didn’t read the question, because it must’ve contained the whistleblower’s name. This apparently happened yesterday, as we reported.
Roberts reportedly told members yesterday that he would not allow the name of the whistleblower to be read in the Senate, and clearly Rand Paul wanted to challenge him on that.
Sean Davis believes this is an abuse of power by Roberts…


  1. John Roberts publicly rejects Rand Paul's whistleblower question in Senate impeachment trial

    Chief Justice John Roberts on Thursday publicly refused to read a question from Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky during the Senate impeachment trial that named the alleged Ukraine whistleblower.

    "The presiding officer declines to read the question as submitted," Roberts said after receiving the question card.
    Paul had expressed frustration with Republican leadership during the trial Wednesday night after it was made clear Roberts would not read his question that named the alleged Ukraine whistleblower, sources with knowledge of the situation said.
    The development brought Roberts into an unusual position in the trial, where he has served in large part to guide the proceedings, not to decide or make any rulings on how they progress.
    But prior to the 16-hour question-and-answer period for the trial on Wednesday, Roberts made clear that he would not read the alleged name of the whistleblower, nor would he consider questions that would move to clearly identify the individual, the sources said. Roberts, in his role, reads each question submitted by senators.

    He was able to review questions from senators who submitted them prior to the start of Wednesday's proceedings, according to two sources. Paul's question, which sources said was revised several times but explicitly would have named the alleged whistleblower, ran afoul of the line Roberts drew on the matter.
    Paul, for his part, could be seen and overheard expressing his frustration on the Senate floor during a break in the proceedings. "If I have to fight for recognition, I will," he was heard telling a Republican staffer.
    The dispute created a behind-the-scenes issue that Republican leaders were attempting to resolve, though no solution had been reached by Wednesday evening.
    Paul said during a break during Wednesday night's proceedings that "it's still an ongoing process" and the question "may happen tomorrow."
    There have been several other whistleblower questions, some that even included identifying information, which Roberts has read. It's the alleged name itself that is his red line, sources said.
    The disputed question -- an unprecedented situation -- comes on the first day senators have had a chance to be heard in the impeachment trial by submitting questions to be read aloud by Roberts directed at one or both of the legal teams. While several Republicans have called for the whistleblower's identity to be revealed in the past, Paul's attempted question on the Senate floor marks the most notable escalation to date.
    The question falls in line with President Donald Trump's own repeated calls for news organizations to identify the whistleblower.
    "There have been stories written about a certain individual, a male, and they say he's the whistleblower," Trump said in November, referring to reports in conservative media outlets purporting to identify the author. "If he's the whistleblower, he has no credibility. Because he's a Brennan guy, he's a Susan Rice guy, he's an Obama guy. And he hates Trump."
    Days after the whistleblower complaint had been released publicly last September, Trump tweeted that he deserved to "meet my accuser."
    "Like every American, I deserve to meet my accuser, especially when this accuser, the so-called 'Whistleblower,' represented a perfect conversation with a foreign leader in a totally inaccurate and fraudulent way," he said.
    Roberts' refusal to read Paul's question also marks a rare moment of meaningful authority as he presides over the trial -- a position that is highly public but has largely seen him recite procedural rules, keep the clock and read aloud vote tallies.
    The chief justice has long been known for his extensive preparation and an ability to foresee what's ahead, which some colleagues have likened to three-dimensional chess.


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