Last week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) rankled many libertarians with his vote to confirm unreconstructed drug warrior and criminal justice reform opponent Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. Last night, the libertarian-leaning senator answered those critics and explained his vote on Fox Business Network’s Kennedy program:
I think personal considerations; I’ve known him for a long time. I didn’t like the way Democrats vilified and tried to create him into some sort of racist monster, which is not who he is. So the fact that they used character assassination, I didn’t want to be associated with that.
But I can tell people, libertarians across the country, that there is no stronger voice in the U.S. Senate for opposing militarization of the police, opposing the drug war, opposing the surveillance state. And so if people want to apply a purity test to me they’re more than welcome, but I would suggest that maybe they spend some of their time on the other 99 less libertarian senators.
Paul’s vote, you’ll recall, was also couched in his ongoing opposition to President Trump appointing Elliott Abrams to the number-two slot at the State Department, an effort that at minimum coincided with success.
Paul’s confirmation strategery has received praise from W. James Antle III and a sympathetic ear from his former co-author Jack Hunter, while prompting a BuzzFeed News piece titled “How Rand Paul Is Navigating The Trump Presidency.”