Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Sunday bashed President Donald Trump’s nomination of William Barr to lead the Justice Department, calling the corporate attorney’s views on surveillance “very, very troubling.”
The Republican lawmaker lambasted Barr, who previously served as attorney general from 1991 to 1993 under President George H.W. Bush, for being in favor of expanding the government’s ability to spy on Americans.
“Uh-oh is right,” Paul told NBC’s “Meet The Press” when asked if he was concerned about Barr’s nomination.
“I’m concerned that he’s been a big supporter of the Patriot Act, which lowered the standard for spying on Americans,” he continued. “And he even went so far as to say, ‘You know, the Patriot Act was pretty good, but we should go much further.’”
Paul said he’s also “disturbed” over Barr’s support of civil asset forfeiture, which allows law enforcement officials to seize someone’s property if they allege it is involved in a crime. The person does not need to be arrested or convicted of wrongdoing.
“I’m disturbed that he’s been a big fan of taking people’s property ― civil asset forfeiture ― without a conviction,” Paul told NBC. “Many poor people in our country have cash taken from them and then the government says, ‘Prove to us where you got the cash and then you can get it back.’ But the burden is on the individual.”
Despite his concerns, Paul did not say he would vote against Barr’s confirmation.
“I haven’t made a decision yet on him, but I can tell you the first things that I’ve learned about him being for more surveillance of Americans is very, very troubling,” Paul said.
Trump announced Friday that he planned to nominate Barr as attorney general after forcing Jeff Sessions out of the role last month. The president had named Sessions’ chief of staff Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general, though the appointment drew bipartisan backlash given Whitaker’s previous public remarks criticizing special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
Aside from Paul’s criticism, Barr has come under fire for previously supporting Trump’s call to investigate his 2016 rival Hillary Clinton and for questioning the need for Mueller’s probe.
It’s unclear what real effect Paul’s critical remarks would have on Barr’s confirmation. Paul had also expressed concern over Trump’s nominations of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and Mike Pompeo as secretary of state, though ultimately voted to confirm them.