The circumstances of Paul’s whistleblower advocacy in the post-Snowden period is substantively different in certain ways from than the debate currently being waged inside the Beltway. Back in 2013, the senator was arguing specifically for protections for government contractors, which the current whistleblower does not appear to be. And he didn’t make any overt mention about the right to anonymity when discussing the protections that whistleblowers deserved—a distinction that the senator seemed to allude to in a Tuesday afternoon tweet.
But tonally, Paul’s approach appears to have changed dramatically. In the amendment that he introduced, for example, there is an explicit prohibition on “professional retaliation against whistleblowers.” And when he took to the Senate floor to deliver a filibuster of the Patriot Act’s reauthorization in May 2015, he spoke of extending whistleblower statute “to people who want to come in and want to tell an authority, an investigator general or somebody, if they want to reveal that they think something is being done illegally.”
Paul is hardly the first GOP defender of the president to argue the public should know who the Trump whistleblower is. But he has certainly become one of the most—if not the most—outspoken.