(CNSNews.com) – Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said his overall complaint about special prosecutors like Robert Mueller is “they find a person, and they look for a crime.”
In an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Paul weighed in on Friday’s court filing against President Donald Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen, saying that the Federal Elections Commission has already ruled on the issue with former presidential candidate John Edwards.
“You know, I think what's interesting about this is people forget history. The Federal Elections Commission actually ruled on this with John Edwards. They actually came up with a ruling and said that, ‘You know what? The paying of his mistress was not a campaign finance violation,’ but I think it's bigger than this,” Paul said.
He said we have to decide whether criminal penalties are the way to handle campaign finance violations. He suggested a fine should suffice, not jail time.
“It's incredibly complicated, campaign finance. We have to decide whether or not really criminal penalties are the way we should approach criminal finance. I personally think that if someone makes an error in filing paperwork or in not categorizing a campaign contribution correctly, it shouldn't be jail time. It ought to be a fine,” the senator said.
“And so it's just like a lot of other things that we've done in Washington. We've over criminalized campaign finance. So really I think we're trying to make and find a crime. This has been my overall complaint about having the special prosecutors, is that really they find a person, and they look for a crime,” he said.
“Let me ask you, though, about the allegation that Michael Cohen had circulated his false testimony to Congress in advance, so people in and around the president, perhaps his lawyers, perhaps him, knew in advance that Michael Cohen was going to lie to Congress. That's something--” NBC’s Chuck Todd said.
“About what issue?” Paul asked.
“About the issue of the Trump Tower Moscow project,” Todd said.
“I guess I don’t quite understand it because I don't know what's illegal about trying to build a hotel in Russia. So this is pretty common, and I see no problem with someone running for president trying to build a hotel somewhere,” Paul said.
“Now, if you were asking and saying, ‘I will give you something in exchange for letting us build a hotel,’ that would be wrong, but I haven't heard any of evidence of that. Just trying to build a hotel somewhere, I can't imagine how that would be criminal or why you'd lie about it if it's not criminal,” the senator said.
“Well, that's what I'm curious about. Why do you think that the story keeps changing in and around the president? If all of these things are as innocent as you've said, why does he keep changing the story?” Todd asked.
Paul said it goes back to the idea of prosecutorial abuse.
“So Cohen is facing -- you know they're saying, ‘Oh, he's getting this long sentence of four years. Oh my goodness.’ He's getting a really, really short sentence. They're threatening him with 20 years or life in prison for all these different tax evasions.
“They're shortening it to four years, but they keep getting the story to change, but maybe that's because the prosecutor's pressuring him, saying, ‘Well, if you don't give us something on Trump, guess what? You get 20 years. If you give us something on Trump, you get four years.’ And so this is prosecutorial abuse I think, and that's why his story keeps shifting, and the thing is it makes no sense.
“The president was talking to the media openly about the deal in Russia in 2015. Why would it make a difference whether he still was talking to people in Russia in 2016 versus 2015?
“So really I think we're trying to make and find a crime. This has been my overall complaint about the -- about having the special prosecutors, is that really they find a person, and they look for a crime. Traditional justice in our country is someone steals something from the grocery store, and you have a crime, you try to find out who did it.
“With a special prosecutor, you decide, ‘We're going after someone, the president, and we're gonna squeeze as many people as we can until we can try to get a person.’ And that's why I'm against these special prosecutors. I think they're a huge mistake, and I think they're a huge abuse of government power," he said.