Full Interview: Sen. Rand Paul talks Juneteenth, Anti-lynching bill, COVID, unemployment

Interview with Sen. Rand Paul
Interview with Sen. Rand Paul(WBKO)
Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 9:22 AM CDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - Senator Rand Paul (R) sat down with WBKO News to discuss a number of topics including recent threats, Juneteenth being a federal holiday, police reform, anti-lynching bill among other topics. (Transcription below)

Q: Recently, you were victim to another threat by receiving mail at your home. Can you give information about who in your home first encountered the letter? What was going through you and your family’s mind after that?

A: “It was mailed to our house, it had threatening images with a gun pointed to my head, it also had white powder in it. My wife received it, but then called the FBI and the sheriff’s office and they came, and, you know, took possession of it, and I guess a very careful manner. And then it’s been investigated. Fortunately, it wasn’t poison, and it wasn’t anthrax. But, you know, for several hours, you know, we had to be concerned about whether or not my wife had been exposed to anthrax, or whether it been exposed to a poison and, and the good news, it wasn’t. But this is a form of terror. The FBI is investigating. I don’t know if they’ll find the person but believe it or not, they’re actually pretty good at solving some crimes like this. So there is a chance, even though the person thought they could get away with this anonymously, that they’ll be caught. In addition to that, we had five threatening phone calls, including specific threats to shoot us. And those are being investigated as well by the FBI. And so, you know, people think that we live in a world where it’s just, you know, jolly well and good to, you know, threatened to kill somebody, but that is a crime, and they will be prosecuted. I guess what gets me is I think the internet sort of encourages this is the anonymity of the internet. And people just think, and they also think they’re self-righteous, they think they’re so right, and the other side is so wrong, that violence is somehow justified. And this is a real problem because the internet can become like a mob. But also real mobs occur. And when a real mob gets together, it’s not pretty.”

Q: Congress passed Juneteenth as a federal holiday--how do you feel about that?

A: “There’s a stain and a blot on our history, which is slavery, and that emancipation is something that we should all celebrate. I did vote for it. I do have some concerns, though, about some people calling it an ‘Independence Day.’ I don’t think there should be an independence day for one race and another for the other. I think really, we ought to try to unite on things. But celebrating emancipation, I think is a good idea. And so I did vote for it.”

Q: What about the anti-lynching bill that you have opposed? What would it take for you to support that bill?

A: “We’ve been working with the authors of it on language. And what we want to make sure is that we don’t create a crime that someone could yell at someone slap somebody or push somebody and that that would be considered lynching. One, that’s a disservice to the people who actually committed lynching or suffered and died from lynching back in the 50s, and 40s, and 30s, and 20s. But the other thing people have to realize is that lynching is illegal. The people who are putting this forward are putting forward some sort of symbolism, but they’re not making lynching, illegal-- lynchings, of course, is illegal and has been for 100 years. What the bill is doing is creating a new crime called ‘Conspiracy to Lynch.’ And the thing is, is that included in that could be defacing a church. So Well, I think that’s a crime to deface a church, but if you were one of the Black Lives Matter folks at Lafayette Square and you painted BLM forever, or something on a church, that could be considered lynching under this bill, and you could get, I think it’s 10 years in prison, but it’s still not a punishment proportional to the crime. So throughout my career in Washington, I’ve always wanted the punishments for things to be proportional. I don’t want somebody for jaywalking, to get 10 years. I don’t want somebody smoking marijuana to get 10 years in prison. But I also don’t want someone from Black Lives Matter, even though I disagree with what they’re doing, who vandalized a church or whatever, I don’t want them to get 10 years in prison for that, because that’s not an appropriate punishment. So the other side wants to make this about lynching has nothing to do with lynching, it has to do with whether or not we have appropriate penalties for appropriate crime.”

Q: Have you spoken with any of BG local law enforcement about the police reform bill? What were some of their concerns if any?

A: “I’ve spoken to police not only in Bowling Green, as well as sheriff’s office but also throughout the state-- I’ve probably spoken to 20 sheriffs over the last six months and probably half a dozen to a dozen police chiefs and to a person they’re concerned about losing what’s called qualified immunity. This is where when there’s something that a policeman is accused of doing, there is at least some qualified immunity in the sense that there’s a question of whether or not they were doing their job, or whether or not it was something that was an accident that happened and not a purposeful action. Now, I do think that when there is misbehavior or a rogue cop, or a cop does something wrong, and they should be punished, and I’m assured by the sheriffs in Kentucky, as well as the police chiefs in Kentucky that this does happen. There’s actually a registry we have in Kentucky for a bad policeman, if he’s fired, he or she is fired from a department that they can’t be hired in another department if they get put into the database. And that has been made better by the state legislature in the last go around. So I think there can be some police reform, ideally, most of it should be done at the state level, because most laws on crime are state laws, not federal laws. So really, the place for reform should be at the state level. Is there something that will happen at the federal level? I think it hinges on this qualified immunity. The Democrats want to eliminate qualified immunity. Republicans have been resistance resistant, and so we’ll see whether or not there’s some kind of middle ground that is reached on police reform. We’ll see what happens.”

Q: Many industries facing worker shortages-- Kentucky is still giving that extra $300/ month -- Beshear says that money has been helping the economy-- agree or disagree?

A: “Governor Beshear, you know, I think is under an illusion and sort of unaware of really the real economics of the situation. If the government pays you more not to work, then you get for working, many people choose just to take the government check and that’s what’s happening. So Governor Beshear-- by allowing this is allowing many people to stay unemployed. And that’s a disservice because the longer you’re unemployed, the less likely you are to come back to work. And the less likely people are to hire you. So it may sound humanitarian to want to give people more money, but it ends up hurting the very people you’re trying to help. So 25 governors across the U.S. have said they’re no longer going to accept the additional federal money because there’s so many jobs out there that we need people to get back to work for. Governor Beshear needs to read up on some economics. And that’s what he ought to do is go ahead and do the same as the other 25 governors reject the additional money so Kentuckians can get back to work.”

Q: You’ve been vocal about raising concerns regarding the origin of COVID- what do you think the NIH knew about COVID based of the emails that have been released?

A: “You know, I think we’ve seen the emails from Dr. Fauci to his assistant saying with alarm, ‘read this paper from this bat scientist in WuHan, this is coming out because he’s like, oh, my goodness, we’ve been funding this.’ You know, it’s not that explicit in the email. But that’s the tone of the email is read this, let’s discuss within the hour. So I think he was concerned he’d ever publicly acknowledged that he was concerned. But I think privately he has been concerned and in private, he has had many different opinions than he’s had in public. But I think he’s outworn his usefulness. He’s outworn his ability to sort of lead on public health issues. I think by not acknowledging natural immunity, 100 million people in America have had COVID. Naturally, they have immunity, but by not acknowledging that he doesn’t acknowledge that we are at herd immunity. Now in our country, the numbers have plummeted. There’s no reason to be forcing children to be vaccinated at this point. But because Dr. Fauci is refusing to recognize natural immunity, he insists on forcing the vaccine onto children. And I think that’s ignoring the science because he has a political agenda. And we’ve seen that time and time again. So I think it’s time for him to resign time for him to move on and on into retirement or another job.”

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