(CNSNews.com) – Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” on Sunday that he thinks civil asset forfeiture – where police can seize, then keep or sell any property they suspect is involved in a crime regardless of whether or not the owner is arrested or even convicted - “is a terrible idea until you’ve convicted someone.”
“There was a discussion the other day in the White House about civil asset forfeiture. I think civil asset forfeiture is a terrible idea until you’ve convicted someone, and I’d like to have that discussion with the president,” Paul said.
Paul was asked how concerned he was that the Trump administration could expand surveillance powers given that Paul voted against the confirmation of Mike Pompeo to head the CIA, but voted for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to lead the Justice Department.
“How concerned are you that the Sessions Justice Department, the Pompeo CIA, the potential ODNI administration of Dan Coats are going to go back more towards the direction that you’ve been opposed for many years?” a reporter asked.
Paul said he was “very concerned, and while I do have some agreements with President Trump on less regulation, less taxes, replacing Obamacare, on surveillance we may not be – or on privacy – on the same wavelength. We’ll have to see.”
Paul said addressing the issue of civil asset forfeiture is important, because it unfairly targets poor people.
“I’ve had that discussion with Senator Sessions,” he said, referring to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was sworn in last week, “and I think some of the things we’ve done particularly to poor people—poor people in our country deal in cash more than wealthier people, and more than people who have their life better planned out who might deal with money in a different way.
“They have cash, and they walk around—doesn’t make them automatically guilty of a crime because they deal in cash, and so I think in order to take someone’s money from them, the government ought to prove that it was ill gotten,” Paul said, adding that the other side of that argument is “if someone’s caught with 50 kilos of some kind of drug and then there’s $50,000 in cash sitting there that somehow the people that are caught are going to get it back. That never happens.
“What we’re really, really talking about is people driving down the road, walking down the street…they just have their possessions taken from them without any kind of conviction,” he said.
“There’s a real danger, and there have been instances of up and down the country of little towns on the side of highways just pulling over everybody and just taking their money, almost like some sort of Robin Hood kind of scheme, so I do worry about that, and I will continue to stand up for what I feel is right no matter no matter whether it’s a Republican or Democrat in office,” Paul said.