“I say tonight to the media, do your job and print his name,” Paul said.
The identity of the whistleblower has not been publicly confirmed, though Paul has tweeted an article that claims to identify the official. The whistleblower’s lawyers wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post last month arguing that their client’s identity is irrelevant because recent testimonies have backed up and exceeded his initial claims.
Trump teased Paul for having “that little libertarian touch,” but mostly lauded him for being a loyal ally in the Senate.
“Whenever I needed him, he was always there. It’s true. I mean, sometimes like, I’ll say I don’t need your vote, Rand, and he’ll say, good, and he’ll vote his own way and that’s OK,” the president said, grinning.
Trump did tout Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky ahead of his reelection bid Tuesday, but he also offered a post-impeachment playbook for his own reelection bid 365 days away.
While the “dangerous” Democrats are busy impeaching him and trying to “indoctrinate your children” against “traditional American values,” the president said, his administration is responsible for record-high stock prices showing a strong economy and for foreign policy achievements.
“We can’t let our country go back to hell,” Trump said, offering a dystopian vision of a Democratic victory in 2020, in which the economy would suffer a crippling depression and corruption would be rampant.
He trashed former Vice President Joe Biden as gaffe-prone, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff as “shifty” and The Washington Post, which is reporting on the impeachment inquiry, as “disgusting.”
Trump was introduced by singer Lee Greenwood, who offered a live rendition of “God Bless the USA,” a Trump rally staple.
The rally was held at Rupp Arena, home to the University of Kentucky’s basketball team, which is worshiped in this part of the commonwealth. It’s a massive venue that seats more than 20,000 — the largest basketball-only arena in the National Collegiate Athletic Association — and it was mostly full by the time Trump arrived onstage shortly after 7 p.m.
The thousands of red-clad attendees represented a striking, if odd, contrast to the arena’s all-blue decor, which matches the Kentucky Wildcats’ base color. Red is the color of in-state rival University of Louisville — a fact that wasn’t lost on the Trump campaign manager, Brad Parscale.
“I have to say, this is the most red in this building — ever!” Parscale exclaimed in remarks to the crowd.
Attendees sitting behind the president’s stage also wore matching white T-shirts with “READ THE TRANSCRIPT” emblazoned on the front. The line has been both a rallying cry and a default defense for Trump since he released a partial transcript of his July 25 phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine that prompted the whistleblower’s report.
Trump was here in a state he carried by 30 points in 2016 to campaign with Bevin, who is locked in a close race on Tuesday with his Democratic opponent, Andy Beshear. It’s the latest example of the Trump campaign’s post-2018 strategy of visiting red states and districts the day before an election, in order to juice Republican turnout the next day.
“I like the Monday nights because I think we’re 58 and 0,” Trump said. “That’s a good record, even for the [Kentucky] Wildcats.”
Bevin began the campaign as one of the most unpopular governors in the country, thanks to an abrasive style and a history of controversial remarks. But he’s been drafting off Trump in order to clinch reelection, and the final polls suggest he’s caught Beshear after trailing for most of the summer.
Trump called Beshear “a major lefty” and nodded to Bevin’s vulnerabilities — but spun them as positives to a friendly crowd.
“We work together. Now he is difficult, I have to say. You know. Maybe it’ll cost him the election,” Trump said, recalling phone calls from Bevin to encourage economic development in Kentucky.
“He’s such a pain in the ass,” Trump said. “But that’s what you want” in a governor.
Trump also touted a number of other Kentucky Republicans. He called Daniel Cameron, the 33-year-old nominee for state attorney general, “a star.”
After Cameron — an African American former staffer for Sen. Mitch McConnell, the majority leader — spoke briefly to the crowd, Trump exclaimed: “A star is born! Did you ever see that movie? ‘A Star is Born!’”
The president also introduced McConnell, who’s up for reelection next year. McConnell told the crowd that he and Trump were working to “change the courts forever” by stocking the judiciary with conservative judges.
Trump said McConnell’s likely 2020 opponent, Democrat Amy McGrath, would be “easy” to beat. But the president also pledged to return to Kentucky to support McConnell in his election battle.
“So next November, this state needs to defend its values and vote for rock-ribbed Kentucky conservative Mitch McConnell,” Trump said. “But we’re going to get back to that later. We’ll be back many times. We’ll be back here many times, Mitch!”