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Rand Paul's Epic Rant: 'I'm Not Particularly Happy With Being Lectured to by the Administration About the Constitution

Rand Paul's Epic Rant: 'I'm Not Particularly Happy With Being Lectured to by the Administration About the Constitution

"This administration is in direct defiance of what Senator Obama ran on..."

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) excoriated several top Obama administration officials on Wednesday for telling Congress how the Constitution works at a Senate hearing, when the administration itself has routinely ignored the Constitution.

"I'm not particularly happy with being lectured to by the administration about the Constitution," Paul said. "This is an administration who I believe has trampled the Constitution at many turns."

"This is an administration that seeks to legislate when it is not in their purview, whether it be immigration, whether it be health care, or whether it not be a war that's been going on for eight months without congressional authorization," he said, referring to the war against the Islamic State.

Paul's remarks seemed to be prompted by Secretary of State John Kerry, who criticized Senate Republicans at the hearing for sending an open letter to Iran that said any agreement on Iran's nuclear program would at some point have to be approved by Congress.

"To write to the leaders in the middle of a negotiation… to write them and suggest that they're going to give a constitutional lesson, which by the way was absolutely incorrect, is quite stunning," Kerry said. "This letter ignores more than two centuries of precedent in the conduct of American foreign policy."

Paul was one of the 47 senators who signed the letter, and replied by saying that letter was really a message to the Obama administration that it doesn't understand that Congress has a role to play here.

"The message I was sending was to you," Paul said. "The message was to President Obama, that we want you to obey the law, we want you to understand the separation of powers."

"I signed it to an administration that doesn't listen, to an administration that at every turn tries to go around Congress, because you think you can't get your way," he added. "The president says, 'oh, the Congress won't do what I want, so I've got a pen and I've got my phone and I'm going to do what I want.' The letter was to you."

The exchange happened at a hearing that was called to discuss the administration's request for authority to fight the Islamic State. But while this is a tip of the hat to Congress, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey, and Kerry all said they don't believe they need new authority anyway.

Instead, they said authorities passed in 2001 and 2002 give the government the authority to fight the Islamic State. Paul cited that as just another example of how the Obama administration doesn't get it.

"It's disdainful to say, well, you know, we want you all to pass something but it doesn't really matter because we'll just use 2001, which is just absurd," Paul said. "It just means that Congress is inconsequential and so are the people in the country."

Paul criticized the administration's interpretation of its new request to fight the Islamic State, by saying it's far too broad, and has the potential to allow the government to wage war in several countries.

"If we're going to go to war in Libya, I want to vote for war in Libya," he said. "If we're going to to go war in Nigeria, I want to vote for war in Nigeria."

"This administration is in direct defiance of what Senator Obama ran on and what he was elected upon," Paul added. "He said no country should go to war without the authority of Congress, unless under imminent attack."

Paul also said he doesn't support the general language that says the U.S. will avoid "enduring" ground operations. He said that while believes the administration when it says there are no intentions to pursue broader military operations, that interpretation could change with a new president.

"I trust you," Paul said. "But the thing is, there will be another president who I may or may not trust. I may have a certain degree of lack of trust in this president."

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