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By Kody Fairfield

Rand Paul, the libertarian-leaning senator from Kentucky, explained his vote to confirm former Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to be the next Attorney General of the United States, telling The Washington Post (WaPo) that Democrats chose to attack his character, not his record on the issues.

Sen. Paul’s decision to back the confirmation of now-Attorney General Sessions left many liberty lovers scratching their heads, as Sessions in his past has not been a ally in ending the “War on Drugs,” reducing or eliminating civil asset forfeiture, or reforming the criminal justice system.

“In some ways, the Democrats made it much more certain that I would vote for him by trying to destroy his character,” Paul said Thursday in an interview with WaPo and Roll Call for C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” series. “I think it’s very upsetting that they didn’t choose to go after him on particular issues, like civil asset forfeiture, where they might have been able to persuade someone. They chose to go after a man’s character.”

Paul, the son of former Texas Representative and presidential candidate Ron Paul, was recently re-elected to a second term in the Senate. He has broken from party lines several times to support civil liberties issues such as drug decriminalization and criminal justice reform, often putting himself on the other side of an issue from the man he just confirmed to be the top law official in the US.

In his interview with WaPo, Paul acknowledged that some libertarian goals might be stymied by a Trump administration. “There still will have to be a lot of standing up and saying ‘there is a right to privacy’,” Paul said. “This was a vote where I ended up voting for someone who was a colleague, who I knew.”

This includes the Senator’s opposition to Mike Pompeo, who is now the Director of the CIA, and his vocal opposition to “neoconservative” John Bolton.

Paul has faced harsh backlash from the liberty minds outside of the Senate for his decision, especially following his explanation of his decision through his Facebook page.

The critics weren’t biting.

Reason’s Matt Welch did offer some insight by citing Paul’s strategist Doug Stafford, who said of Paul’s opposition to the confirmation of Loretta Lynch that “there was hope that her views on asset forfeiture and other areas of concern conflicted enough with those of the more reform-friendly Obama that her potential replacement could conceivably be better.” With Sessions, Paul did not see the same opportunity.

Paul continued to insist that his vote was forced by the personal attacks on Session’s character, citing Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s reading of a Coretta Scott King letter to highlight alleged racism from Sessions.

“The thing is, I’ve seen pictures of him marching for voting rights with [congressman] John Lewis,” Paul said of Sessions. “He is for voting rights. There are things no one wants attached to their character, no person that I know wants to be called racist, or that you’re trying to prevent someone to vote.”

Paul also made clear to WaPo that he hasn’t given up the battle on civil asset forfeiture, or his potential influence on the White House, saying, “There was a discussion in the White House the other day about civil asset forfeiture. I think civil asset forfeiture is a terrible idea. I’d like to have that discussion with the president.”

In the tweet below, you can see part of Sen. Paul’s interview with WaPo’s Dave Weigel about his vote.


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About The Author

Kody Fairfield

Kody Fairfield, 26, hails from Orange County, California. He attended the University of Wisconsin- La Crosse pursuing his degree in Political Science and Public Administration. Kody found his passion in politics early, connecting first to our third President, Thomas Jefferson, but expanding into activism with his introduction to the Paul (Ron and Rand) family. In 2016, Kody was a delegate for the Libertarian National Convention, and helped to support Austin Petersen in his bid for the nomination. As a staunch believer in free markets, individual rights, and limited government, Kody began writing for Liberty Viral and The Libertarian Republic in 2016. In January of 2017, Kody was named the Editor-in-Chief of TLR and currently holds the Ambassador At-Large Chair for the Libertarian Party of Orange County, Ca. He believes that with the right messaging, the ideas of liberty will continue to grow. When Kody isn't politicking, he is busy managing a CrossFit gym, or spending time with family, friends and his dog.

  • Brandon

    Libertarians are starting to lose me. They have become ideological puritans. I don’t love all of Sessions positions, but these are not ordinary times. I believe our republic is at stake and some compromise is necessary to fight back the global forces that seek to remove ALL liberty from american citizens. Sessions will dismantle the criminal cabals that in addition to being human traffickers have corrupted the political system beyond recognition. No libertarian will ever be able to hold any political power until these regressive forces are defeated.

    • Libertarian Heretic

      I come at it from the opposite angle. Like most millenial libertarians I was deeply inspired by Obama and his first run for president. But almost immediately, due to the Recovery and Reinvestment Act (which I actually thought more reasonable than Bush’s TARP or auto bailouts) and Obamacare I quickly moved into the opposition camp. I rejoiced when Congress turned Republican and started slowing him down.
      Being a left leaning libertarian and noticing the center of gravity is on the right amongst libertarians I can’t say I see them pushing back as hard against Trump as I did against Obama. I’ve already heard tons of apologia for the Carrier deal, travel restrictions, the wall, tariffs, ect. Not to mention the libertarians against Johnson/Weld or libertarians for Trump groups. Its pretty hypocritical. People joining a Libertarians for Obama group would provably get harassed as insufficiently libertarian to the end of time.
      If all this is necessary to stop the ‘globalists’ count me out. I don’t even think ‘they’ exist. At least not in the sense Alex Jones and his ilk would have us believe. I’m at least as scared of the neo-fascist and lawless hillbillies Trump is so fond of.