Feb 13, 2020 - Politics & Policy

YouTube removes clip of Rand Paul reading alleged name of Ukraine whistleblower on Senate floor

Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

YouTube removed a video of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) reading the alleged name of the Ukraine whistleblower on the Senate floor as senators debated President Trump's impeachment earlier this month, Politico reports.

The state of play: The Kentucky senator has been at the forefront of the push to name the whistleblower for months — a fight that triggered a schism between Trump allies and moderates in the GOP.

  • Chief Justice John Roberts had refused to read a question from Paul aloud during the question-and-answer portion of Trump's impeachment trial because it included the alleged name.
  • At the time, Paul defended his decision to CNN's Manu Raju, arguing that he did not single out the alleged whistleblower: "I would say the chief justice did that. By not allowing the question, he's sort of confirming to the public who it is. I have no idea who it is."

What they're saying:

  • Paul told Politico, "It is a chilling and disturbing day in America when giant web companies such as YouTube decide to censure speech. Now, even protected speech, such as that of a senator on the Senate floor, can be blocked from getting to the American people. This is dangerous and politically biased. Nowhere in my speech did I accuse anyone of being a whistleblower, nor do I know the whistleblower’s identity."
  • YouTube spokesperson Ivy Choi said, "Videos, comments, and other forms of content that mention the leaked whistleblower’s name violate YouTube’s Community Guidelines and will be removed from YouTube. We’ve removed hundreds of videos and over ten thousand comments that contained the name. Video uploaders have the option to edit their videos to exclude the name and reupload."

Go deeper

Rand Paul reads alleged name of Ukraine whistleblower on Senate floor

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said the alleged name of the Ukraine whistleblower on the Senate floor as senators debated President Trump's impeachment on Tuesday.

The state of play: Paul read aloud his question that named the alleged whistleblower — and had an accompanying poster that also included the name — which Chief Justice John Roberts refused to read during the impeachment trial last week.

Roberts declines to read impeachment question from Rand Paul

Chief Justice John Roberts again declined Thursday to read a question from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) during the question-and-answer portion of President Trump's Senate impeachment trial.

The big picture: Paul attempted to include the alleged name of the Ukraine whistleblower in his questions on Wednesday, CNN reported. When beginning Thursday's proceedings, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised Roberts a "level of consideration" in reading the questions out loud — an apparent dig at Paul.

YouTube adjusts line on political misinformation

Photo: Carsten Rehder/picture alliance via Getty Images

YouTube will bar videos that lie about the mechanics of an election, the company announced in a blog post Monday, but indicated it remains reluctant to crack down more broadly on deceptive political speech, as some critics have demanded.

Why it matters: YouTube's content policies — which are separate from the advertising policies Google outlined in the fall — do not ban political falsehoods at a time when tech platforms are under fire to limit misinformation about candidates and elections.