(CNSNews.com) - For the second day in a row on Thursday, presiding Chief Justice John Roberts refused to read a question asked by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) because it contained the name Eric Ciaramella.
"The presiding officer declines to read the question as submitted," Roberts said at the Senate impeachment trial.
Ciaramella is reported to be the whistleblower who launched the Trump impeachment, but Paul said he has no knowledge of that, so he was not intending to name the whistleblower, even if he happened to do so.
Later on Thursday, Paul explained that he simply wanted to know if a group of Democrat activists, holdovers from the Obama administration, "were working together for years, looking for an opportunity" that could lead to Trump's impeachment.
He tweeted that his exact question was this: "Are you aware that House intelligence committee staffer Shawn Misko had a close relationship with Eric Ciaramella while at the National Security Council together?"
Sen. Paul explained his question in greater detail on Fox News Thursday night:
My question did not identify anyone as a whistleblower or refer to anyone as a whistleblower. But my question did discuss two Obama partisans who worked in the National Security Council. One of them now works for Adam Schiff; and one of them is someone who is involved in the origins of the impeachment inquiry.
So these two people have been friends for a long time. There are stories and reports now that they, a few years ago, were overheard saying, you know what, we gotta to do everything we can to bring down the president, to take down the president.
And lo and behold, these two friends are still intimately involved. And the story even thickens from there. There are three people working for Adam Schiff's staff who used to work for national security staff. They know this third gentleman. They all know Vindman -- you know Vindman's been very prominent in the testimony, and Vindman's brother.
So we actually have six people who are Obama partisans who work for the National Security Council who all are transmitting stuff back and forth. And my question is, did they have discussions predating the official impeachment inquiry? Maybe predating even by a year or two.
We know that Adam Schiff was dishonest when he said there was no contact. It turns out they did have contact in the days and weeks leading up to the impeachment inquiry. But it may well be that they had contact even a year or two before, and I think people ought to be able to discuss that. So I was disappointed that that question was shut down.
Paul noted that one of the partisans, Sean Misko, is sitting in on the Senate impeachment trial. "He's in the Senate chamber with two other people."
Paul said Misko is among the people who "need to be asked, were they coaching and helping this complaint, not only in the days preceding the impeachment complaint but maybe even weeks and months before. Were they simply looking and waiting for some kind of bit of evidence that they could create and craft into an impeachment complaint?”
Paul also said the idea of whistleblower protection has been "overblown."
"Look, I'm a big defender of whistleblowers," he said, noting that that includes Eric Snowden, "the biggest...whistleblower of all time."
But Paul said if impeachment sprang from a "concocted plot to bring down the president, that's not something the whistleblower statute is about.
“But also, the whistleblower statute does not guarantee that you are anonymous; it guarantees that you're not fired. So I don't want to fire their whistleblower.
“But I think the president deserves that this whistleblower come forward, and I never identified anybody as a whistleblower. That's why it's unfair to exclude my question. I'm just identifying people who are friends and who are against the president and plotted against the president.”