U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, in a Frankfort visit Monday morning, said Democrats in Washington are not treating their own to the same scrutiny that they are giving President Donald Trump for a recently disclosed phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
“It sounds like both sides are doing similar things, threatening aid, saying you have to do this or that, and I just think you have to be treated equally or it's not fair,” Paul said following a keynote address to the Kentucky Federalist Society Convention at the state Capitol.
The call between the two presidents was cited in a whistleblower complaint that led to an impeachment inquiry of Trump by House Democrats.
In his speech at the convention, Paul spoke about interpreting equal protection under the law. He told reporters after his speech that interfering with aid to get something in return is something that other Democrats have done, including former Vice President Joe Biden, whose son Hunter sat on the board of a Ukrainian gas company, The Associated Press reported.
“I haven’t heard one Democrat say what Joe Biden did was wrong, to threaten their aid, particularly when his son was making over $50,000 a month,” Paul said.
Over the weekend, a second whistleblower came forward against Trump. Last week, Paul said at a meeting with Mayfield community leaders that the first whistleblower should identify himself or herself due to the possibility that the accusation could be “something that's going to bring down a presidency,” according to Paducah TV Station WPSD.
On Monday at the Capitol, Paul questioned whether either whistleblower had legal access to the phone call. He said that the identity of the persons and how they obtained the information in their complaints are things he wants to know.
“Without knowing the person’s name, it would be interesting to know if either of the whistleblowers were legally allowed to or did they get illegal dissemination of information, because that is important,” Paul said. “I mean if the president can’t keep confidential some things and everybody is leaking it, that’s a real problem for a nation’s security as well.”
Paul said he thinks “we shouldn’t be listening to all the president’s phone calls, and some of that is done by presidents allowing it to happen.” He said intelligence officials had about 1,500 records of phone calls from President Barack Obama, but they redacted his name from records.
“They (the intelligence community) think they accumulate power over time and there is great danger, not just for Republicans, there is great danger for anybody who if the intelligence community can listen to our phone calls, particularly without warrants, that a lot of mischief could be done,” Paul said.
He thinks there is still indication that intelligence officials used other international intelligence agencies to investigate the Trump administration.
“It’s illegal for our CIA to spy on an American. It’s also supposed to be illegal for the CIA to ask the British to spy on an American or ask the Australians to spy on an American,” Paul said. “So, I do think we need to get to the bottom of this, not just for Trump, but so the intelligence community doesn’t have a separate base of power that they can abuse.”
In the case of Trump's asking the Ukrainian president to investigate the Bidens, Paul said that there hasn’t been a strong case to suggest that action was unlawful, but it could be argued whether or not it was appropriate.
Paul also commented on a federal court ruling out of New York that says Trump must release his tax returns at the request of New York prosecutors, who are looking into matters like payment of hush money from Trump to porn star Stormy Daniels and a Playboy centerfold, the Associated Press reported. Paul thinks the case will go higher in the judicial system and said the ruling is bigger than just the president’s tax records. He said that tax filings for all Americans are private and presidents have the choice to release their tax records to the public. Forcing such records could “discredit our tax system,” the senator said.
“Everyone’s tax returns are supposed to be anonymous and while they go and get processed for accuracy, no one is calling up your friends, people in church, people you live by and saying, ‘Oh, he makes this amount of money and these were his deductions.’ That’s a private thing and that’s based on anonymity,” Paul said Monday.
As for Kentucky’s gubernatorial race, Paul told reporters that he is a “big fan” of Gov. Matt Bevin. Paul said that Bevin is the first governor in two decades to fully fund Kentucky teachers’ pensions.