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Rand Paul Is the Latest Republican to Abandon All His Values for Some Applause at a Trump Rally

Rand Paul rants from the stage at a rally next to Donald Trump

At a campaign rally in Kentucky Monday night, Donald Trump was joined onstage by Republican Senator Rand Paul, who was apparently eager to sell out everything he’s claimed to believe in, in exchange for some applause and a metaphorical Kiss From Daddy.

Here is Paul, telling the crowd that the whistleblower who filed a complaint about Trump’s call with Ukraine’s president should be outed by the media.

Until now, Paul had pretty much built his whole political career on the idea that the government should stay out of people’s lives. (Well, that and nepotism. Those are his big two foundations.) Paul is a Tea Party Republican who has described himself as a libertarian because, as he once put it, “libertarians believe in freedom in all aspects of your life – your economic life as well as your social life as well as your personal life.”

What makes this rally performance even more bizarre is that in 2014, Rand Paul fought to increase protections for whistleblowers, even introducing an amendment to a cybersecurity bill that would prohibit the exact sort of retaliation he’s now calling for.

Not only did the whistleblower do nothing wrong or illegal, but the way in which Trump and his band of bootlickers continue to call for the identity of the whistleblower shows a fundamental misunderstanding of what whistleblowing actually is. Trump keeps casting doubt on what was said in their complaint simply because he and the public don’t know who the person is. How can we believe their account if they haven’t proven their credentials to us, he’s implying. How can we trust them?

CNN’s Chris Cillizza has a great breakdown of why this line of thinking is wrong, but here’s the big takeaway:

What Trump and Paul are trying to do is put the whistleblower at the end of this process. Unless the whistleblower reveals him or herself, how we can trust that anything he or she says is right? We have to know who this person is to judge whether they are some bitter Democrats or loser Never Trumper!

That’s not what a whistleblower is or what they do. Whistleblowers are the start of a process, not the end of it. And they are rarely the centerpiece of the process.

After the whistleblower filed their complaint, the investigation kept going. Trump is still stuck on step one, and has been ignoring the multiple witnesses brought in to testify to Congress about that call, other calls, and the overall state of US-Ukranian foreign policy.

“Fixating on the whistleblower in all of this, then, is missing the forest for the trees,” writes Cillizza.

There’s a chance that Trump genuinely doesn’t understand why it’s so pointless to focus on the whistleblower. I think it’s much more likely that he knows exactly what he’s doing–especially because it’s his go-to move: to repeat a talking point falsehood until his supporters treat it as fact. It creates a neat narrative that’s easy to parrot back and it deflects attention from the reality of the situation, which is that the process has been moving exactly as it’s supposed to and it’s not going Trump’s way.

(image: Bryan Woolston/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.