Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) addressed Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) criticism of the Trump administration.
Partial transcript as follows:
KARL: And I think it’s fair to say that you are second to none in the Senate when it comes to fighting for civil liberties. So let me ask you about specifically what he’s saying about the press. He is saying now that the news media is the enemy of the American people. Do you agree with that?
PAUL: It’s not something that I would say. I would say that there is bias. And I think it’s fair to point out that there is bias in the media on both sides, both right and left. And that it’s very hard to find objective news because we have gotten, particularly as you watch cable news, it’s so dominated by opinion. And we are more polarized. And some of that comes from the people and some of that comes from the media. But I would say that I don’t see in his criticism, somehow, people think that the separation of powers means that the president can’t criticize the judiciary. No, it has nothing to do with that. That’s more sort of political sensibilities but has nothing to do with the Constitution or separation of powers. We don’t like it when they see it sort of treads on things. But the separation of powers is about legislative powers. It isn’t about discussion or words. So I would separate, once again, words from actual real legislative action. If someone tries to put limits on the press, I’ll be the first one standing up for the right of press, left and right, to continue saying and being part of the discussion and forwarding the discussion.
KARL: What would you make of McCain’s statement that we’re creeping towards a situation where people are potentially supportive of dictatorship in this country? Is that over the top or is there a concern?
PAUL: I think Senator McCain’s perspective is colored by his disagreements with President Trump on foreign policy. If I were to look at foreign policy, I would say John McCain has been wrong on just about everything over the last four decades. He advocated for the Iraq War, which I think destabilized the Middle East. If you look at the map, there’s probably at least six different countries where John McCain has advocated for having U.S. boots on the ground. John McCain’s complaint is we’re either not at war somewhere, or if we’re at war, we leave too soon. So we’re not there soon enough, and he wants us to stay forever wherever we send troops. So that’s a foreign policy that is at odds with President Trump, and also the idea of engagement. The idea of foreign policy realism, I think, fits more neatly with President Trump. And with John McCain, the neoconservative label of let’s make the world safe for democracy and we’re going to topple every regime hasn’t worked. I mean, our intervention to destabilize the Assad regime has really made the chaos worse in Syria. And if you were to get rid of Assad today, I would actually worry about the 2 million Christians that are protected by Assad. So I think it’s more a foreign policy debate. And Trump and McCain are on opposite sides of that debate. And I tend to sympathize more with the president that we need to change. We don’t need to continue to have regime change throughout the world, nation-building. It’s expensive. And we don’t have enough money to rebuild our own country if we’re rebuilding everyone else’s countries.
KARL: But just to clarify, what McCain said specifically is dictators get started by limiting freedom of the press. I imagine you agree with that.
PAUL: Well, the thing is, is I don’t agree with his analysis and applying that to the president. I haven’t seen any legislation coming forward that wants to limit the press. I see President Trump expressing his opinion, rather forceful in his own — you know, his own distinct way. But I see no evidence that anybody is putting forward any kind of legislation to limit the press. So I think people — you know, this is colored by John McCain’s disagreement with President Trump. It all is. Everything that he says about the president is colored by his own personal dispute he has got running with President Trump. And it should be taken with a grain of salt because John McCain is the guy that has advocated for war everywhere. He would bankrupt the nation. And actually we’re very lucky John McCain is not in charge because I think we would be in perpetual war.
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