Sen. Rand Paul has returned to work on Capitol Hill after a Trump-hating, Bernie Sanders-supporting, left-wing Democrat put him in the hospital after what looks like a politically motivated attack.
The junior Republican senator from Kentucky returned to Washington Monday in time for the Senate Finance Committee to begin considering the Senate tax reform bill, which is now said to include a provision repealing Obamacare’s individual mandate, as Paul has long proposed.
The afternoon of Friday, Nov. 3, Rene Albert Boucher, 59, ambushed 54-year-old Paul, his next-door neighbor of 17 years, at his home, crushing Paul’s ribs while the senator was performing yard work. A registered Democrat, Boucher has practiced as an anesthesiologist in Bowling Green. Paul is an ophthalmologist. Boucher has entered a not guilty plea to a misdemeanor fourth-degree assault charge.
"From my perspective, I'm not really too concerned about what someone's motive is,” Paul said.
“I'm just concerned that I was attacked from the back and somebody broke six of my ribs and gave me a damaged lung where at least for now I have trouble speaking and breathing and now I've hurt for 10 days.”
There was "no justification" for the attack, Paul told the Washington Examiner this week.
Senior Paul adviser Doug Stafford said separately that Paul and Boucher hadn’t spoken for years before the incident. "This was not a 'fight,' it was a blindside, violent attack by a disturbed person," Stafford said in a statement. "Anyone claiming otherwise is simply uninformed or seeking media attention."
This is Paul’s second reported brush with political violence this year.
Paul was playing in the congressional baseball practice game in a Washington suburb in June when Trump-hating Bernie Sanders supporter James T. Hodgkinson opened fire wounding four and coming close to assassinating House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) who survived his life-threatening injuries. Hodgkinson was killed by a police officer on the scene.
“Politically, Boucher was a socialist, according to his realtor friend Jim Bullington, 74, who served three terms on the city commission and was also one of Paul's eye patients,” the Daily Mail reports. Boucher would come to a restaurant in Bowling Green “where he would drink wine and espouse the virtues of ripping up the American healthcare system and replacing it with a publicly-funded service like those in Canada and Great Britain.”
'He's a Francophile, his family are French-Canadian,” Bullington said. “He believes the government can do it better than the private sector and that's the way to go,” he told the British newspaper. “Rand Paul is a libertarian who believes just the opposite. But they didn't ever mention one another. I didn't even realize they were neighbors.”
Boucher’s social media footprint is rife with hatred of President Trump and suggests he supports gun control, something Paul strongly opposes. "May Robert Mueller fry Trump's gonads," he wrote on Facebook in a reference to the independent prosecutor’s investigation of the Trump-Russia electoral collusion conspiracy theory.
"Trump firing everyone who investigates him. TOTALITARIANISM," he wrote in a May post. He also wrote, "SUB-ZERO: The intelligence level or [sic] Trump supporters."
Boucher’s attorney, Matt Baker, said the attack arose out of a “property dispute” and not political differences. This seems unlikely given that Paul, by all accounts, was a model neighbor who took good care of his property and got along with more or less everyone in the community.
So of course Baker is going to say that to try to shield his client from more serious federal charges related to interfering with a senator in the performance of his job, which remain a possibility in the case. Such charges could bring a 10-year prison term.
Boucher, apparently a cheapskate, also blames Paul for not being able to sell his adjoining property in their gated community, the Daily Mail reports.
Trees on Paul’s property supposedly obscure Boucher’s view of a picturesque lake. Boucher has put his home up for sale five times in a decade without success, asking up to $849,500 for a two-story, 7,500 square foot, house that is worth only $740,000.
“Everyone says it's priced too high,” Bullington said. “He tried to sell it himself because he didn't want to pay any commission to a realtor.”
Boucher is free on bail.
Warren County, Ky., District Judge Brent Potter, has ordered Boucher to stay at least 1,000 feet away from Paul and his family, unless Boucher is inside his own home. Potter has also forbidden Boucher from possessing firearms.
Boucher’s next court appearance, a pre-trial hearing, is scheduled for Nov. 30.