According to reports from multiple outlets, Kentucky senator Rand Paul was assaulted at his home in Bowling Green, Kentucky on Saturday, reportedly "blindsided" by an attacker and suffering minor injuries. Paul's communications director Kelsey Cooper reportedly put out the following statement, confirming that the Kentucky Republican senator is ok.
Senator Paul was blindsided and the victim of an assault. The assailant was arrested and it is now a matter for the police. Senator Paul is fine.
The reported suspect in the alleged assault, arrested by Bowling Green authorities on Saturday afternoon, is a 59-year-old man named Rene Albert Boucher. According to CNN, law enforcement sources confirmed that Boucher is an "acquaintance" of Paul's, but no further information as to their relationship was given. There hasn't yet been any indication why the assault occurred, and an investigation is reportedly ongoing.
Paul, 54, reportedly suffered only "minor injury" in the attack. Boucher has reportedly been charged with a charge of fourth-degree assault, a Class A misdemeanor in the state of Kentucky. Fourth-degree assault is the least serious assault charge a person can receive in the state, carrying a possible penalty of up to $500, and no more than one year in jail.
According to the Associated Press, Kentucky State Police Master Trooper Jeremy Hodges stated that the misdemeanor charge would have been more severe had Boucher been using a "dangerous instrument."
If he was using any type of a dangerous instrument, then it would have been a felony charge.
It remains to be seen if and when more details about the attack will be publicly revealed, but as it stands now, that's basically all that's known: Paul suffered minor injuries from an unspecified attack allegedly committed by Boucher, and Boucher is facing a misdemeanor assault charge.
A resident of the neighborhood told local news affiliate WNKY that Paul and Boucher are neighbors, and have had a tense relationship. The witness claims Paul was mowing his lawn at the time of the alleged attack. Authorities are reportedly investigating whether or not the incident was politically motivated.
Paul, a two-term senator from the Bluegrass State, first won election to the U.S. Senate in 2010, part of the Tea Party midterm wave that former president Barack Obama famously referred to as a "shellacking" for the Democratic Party. He's the son of Ron Paul, the former Texas representative who became a high-profile leader for conservative libertarians throughout his long legislative career.
Following in his father's footsteps, Paul unsuccessfully ran for president in 2016, losing the GOP primaries (like every other established Republican politician) to Donald Trump. He's since stood out as a stumbling block to some of Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's most high-profile legislative items, in particular the Obamacare repeal bill that failed multiple times over the past several months, stymied by Paul's occasional opposition in addition to nay votes from Susan Collins, John McCain, and Lisa Murkowski.
Although Paul's injuries are reportedly minor, and based on the charge Boucher faces it doesn't sound as if the alleged assault was particularly serious, it wasn't that long ago that a number of Republican officeholders were attacked by an apparently politically motivated gunman during a baseball practice in June, a shooting which nearly killed Louisiana representative Steve Scalise.
As a result, potential acts of political violence have loomed large in the national consciousness, which is part of why the news of Paul's assault broke as such alarming and worrying news. From the sounds of things, however, he was not in any serious peril ― at least not as far as law enforcement or Paul's office have suggested so far.