Rand Paul’s talk is not only reckless – it’s dangerous

Berry Craig
Berry Craig

By BERRY CRAIG

Historian Brian Clardy isn’t surprised that the unfounded charges and flat lies Donald Trump and his allies are leveling against the Justice Department and the FBI over federal officers legally removing classified documents from the former president’s Mar-a-Lago residence resulted in a Trump supporter identified as Ricky Shiffer trying to storm the Cincinnati FBI office.

“We could see more such attacks,” said Clardy, a Murray State University history professor.

Clad in body armor and carrying a potentially-lethal nail gun — which he fired — and an AR-15-style rifle, Shiffer fled and was killed following a standoff with police.

On Fox & Friends, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul joined the FBI-bashing, channeling his inner Joe McCarthy. Clardy called Paul’s comments “very powerful and very dangerous.”

“Tail Gunner-Joe”-like, Paul insinuated — with no proof — that the FBI agents secretly stuffed the boxes they took with incriminating evidence in order to “entrap” Trump. “How do we know that they’re going to be honest with us about what’s actually in the boxes?” he asked his friendly hosts, who smiled approvingly and kept lobbing the softball questions.

Paul, a far-right-wing Bowling Green Republican, is seeking a third term on Nov. 8. His challenger is Louisville Democrat Charles Booker, a former state representative.

Added Clardy: “Rand Paul is a sitting United States senator. He’s always on right-wing cable TV, like Fox News. Millions of people hear what he says.”

Clardy said that while Trump and MAGA world bigwigs are “not outright urging anyone to commit violence, somebody was bound to hear their charges and act on them.” (Click here to read from The New York Times, “As Right-Wing Rhetoric Escalates, So do Threats and Violence.”)

Trump’s boosters began crying foul, sans evidence, as soon as news broke that the FBI had executed a court-approved search warrant for suspected classified documents allegedly stored wrongfully at Trump’s Florida home.

Shiffer, who was an ardent Trumper, reportedly was in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, when Trump-incited rioters mobbed the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election which made Joe Biden president. Shiffer was reportedly seen on the Capitol grounds, but it isn’t clear if he went inside. Shifter often bragged on social media that he was present, according to NBC News.

“On Truth Social, a social media platform founded by Trump’s media company, Trump Media & Technology Group, Shiffer appeared to have posted a message detailing his failed attempt to gain entry to the FBI building,” NBC also reported.

Clardy is hardly alone in fearing more violence against the FBI. Department for Homeland Security and FBI officials have issued a bulletin warning of “an increase in violent threats posted on social media against federal officials and facilities, including a threat to place a so-called dirty bomb in front of FBI Headquarters and issuing general calls for ‘civil war’ and ‘armed rebellion.’”

A Democrat, Clardy doubts that Paul would listen to him. “But he has a responsibility as a citizen and as an elected official to tamp down the rhetoric.”

Wrote the Maddowblog’s Steve Benen: “At least so far, Paul hasn’t presented any evidence of the attorney general misusing his office for political purposes or going after a political opponent, apparently because no such evidence exists. What’s more, if the Justice Department didn’t have legitimate evidence of wrongdoing, it almost certainly couldn’t have received a court-ordered search warrant.

“But Kentucky’s junior senator, speaking to a national television audience, raised the specter of impeaching [Attorney Gen. Merrick] Garland anyway.”

Benen added that Paul isn’t flying solo: “A day earlier, Republican Sen. Josh Hawley did the same thing. ‘At a minimum, Garland must resign or be impeached,’ the Missouri senator wrote on Twitter, failing to point to any evidence of wrongdoing on Garland’s part.”

In July, Benen recalled, “Rep. Jim Jordan — a Republican who would likely chair the House Judiciary Committee in the event of a GOP majority — also talked up the idea of impeaching the attorney general.

“Months earlier, Republican Rep. Scott Perry — yes, that Scott Perry — went so far as to formally introduce an impeachment resolution against Garland.”

Clardy said the false accusations Republicans like Paul are hurling “are dangerous and irresponsible. He knows better. Sen. Paul considers himself a patriot. He needs to be a patriot and for the good of the country shut his mouth.”

"Rand Paul considers himself a patriot. He needs to be a patriot and for the good of the country — shut his mouth."

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Berry Craig

Berry Craig is a professor emeritus of history at West KY Community College, and an author of seven books and co-author of two more. (Read the rest on the Contributors page.)

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