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US chief justice declines to read out question that names alleged whistleblower

The impeachment trial question was submitted by Republican senator Rand Paul.

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Chief Justice John Roberts looks at a question submitted by senator Rand Paul (Senate Television via AP)

Chief Justice John Roberts looks at a question submitted by senator Rand Paul (Senate Television via AP)

Chief Justice John Roberts looks at a question submitted by senator Rand Paul (Senate Television via AP)

Chief justice John Roberts has declined to read an impeachment trial question from a Republican senator that purportedly named the whistleblower whose complaint led to the investigation into Donald Trump.

Rand Paul has said he believes that the whistleblower may have conspired with House staff aides in writing the August whistleblower complaint.

“The presiding officer declines to read the question as submitted,” Mr Roberts announced. The chief justice did not say what was in the note.

Earlier, Mr Roberts’ staff communicated to Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s staff that Mr Roberts did not want to read the whistleblower’s name.

Mr Paul said on Twitter after Mr Roberts declined to read his note that the question involved “whether or not individuals who were holdovers from the Obama National Security Council and Democrat partisans conspired with Schiff staffers to plot impeaching the President before there were formal House impeachment proceedings”. That was a reference to House intelligence chairman Adam Schiff, who led the impeachment inquiry.

US whistleblower laws exist to protect the identity and careers of people who bring forward accusations of wrongdoing by government officials. Members of Congress in both parties have historically backed those protections.

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