During a Sunday appearance on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) took a stand against the state and federal practice of civil asset forfeiture. Asset forfeiture is a way for law enforcement to confiscate property without trial purely off of suspicion that your property is being used for criminal activity.
During his discussion about the practice, Paul referenced the comments President Donald Trump made to a sheriff about destroying the career of a Texas lawmaker who was introducing bills to restrict asset forfeiture. Paul believes that a discussion with Trump is necessary to bring him around.
“There was a discussion the other day in the White House about civil asset forfeiture. I think civil asset forfeiture is a terrible idea until you’ve convicted someone, and I’d like to have that discussion with the president,” said Paul.
Trump’s recently appointed attorney general Jeff Sessions has a record of supporting asset forfeiture to the point of wishing it go unhampered. Paul says that he has discussed the subject with Sessions, and explained that asset forfeiture is a practice that primarily targets and hurts the poor, who primarily deal in cash. Doing so, says Paul, does not automatically make them criminals.
“I’ve had that discussion with Senator Sessions,” he said, referring to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was sworn in last week, “and I think some of the things we’ve done particularly to poor people—poor people in our country deal in cash more than wealthier people, and more than people who have their life better planned out who might deal with money in a different way.
“They have cash, and they walk around—doesn’t make them automatically guilty of a crime because they deal in cash, and so I think in order to take someone’s money from them, the government ought to prove that it was ill gotten,” Paul said, adding that the other side of that argument is “if someone’s caught with 50 kilos of some kind of drug and then there’s $50,000 in cash sitting there that somehow the people that are caught are going to get it back. That never happens.
Paul has been something of an ally of Trump’s since he has taken office, agreeing with the president’s opinions and actions most of the time. However, Paul has stated in the past that he expected he and Trump will butt heads on some subjects. One of those subjects has been entitlements, where Paul took a bold stance in saying that then President-elect Trump’s disinterest in tackling entitlements does not make him a fiscal conservative. It appears asset forfeiture will also be on that list as well.
That is, unless Paul can convince the president otherwise. Doing so, however, may be difficult given Trump’s hard stances on fighting crime. Regardless, Paul believes that this method of crime fighting is a dangerous one that allows the government to reach too far.
“There’s a real danger, and there have been instances of up and down the country of little towns on the side of highways just pulling over everybody and just taking their money, almost like some sort of Robin Hood kind of scheme, so I do worry about that, and I will continue to stand up for what I feel is right no matter no matter whether it’s a Republican or Democrat in office,” Paul said.