Rand Paul appeared on ABC’s “The View” on Friday, where a discussion of his assault last year soon turned into a debate on the importance of protecting Americans’ constitutional privacy rights, including those of President Donald Trump.
Sen. Paul was asked if he was in favor of releasing the Nunes memo that Republicans claimed claim showed the FBI and the intelligence community abusing their power (beginning at about 4:00 minutes in). When Paul said he did support it’s release in the interest of “sunlight,” “transparency” and “more oversight” in the intelligence community, “The View” co-host Joy Behar seemed perturbed.
“Really?” Behar said to Paul. “What about the tax returns if we need some sunshine?” Behar said in response to Paul, referring to the president’s refusal to release his tax returns. The audience cheered.
Paul paused for a moment waiting for the applause to die down. “You can argue for ‘sunshine’ on his tax returns, but do you want the IRS to search his database and secretly give that out to the media?”
“Do you want your tax returns given out?” Paul asked Behar.
“I want him to give them to the FBI,” Behar shot back.
Paul said, “Nobody’s tax returns should be given to anyone unless a judge has a warrant for why you have probable cause.” The audience cheered again, this time for the senator.
Sen. Paul acknowledged that he believed Behar wasn’t wrong in her basic premise about political candidates and their tax returns. “There’s a very valid political point that you’ve made that he should release them when he’s running for office,” Paul said.
The senator continued:
But the worrisome thing is that the government has all of your information. Do you want them releasing it willy-nilly against their enemies, and think who their enemies are? The enemies are people that are minorities of opinion. Minorities of color. People who have a lifestyle that other people think is unacceptable.
“Do you want the government or the majority to be able to selectively target their enemies,” Paul asked?
Whoopi Goldberg chimed to wonder if it was hypocritical for either party to tout transparency at this point, given how much both sides are willing to abuse power to serve partisan purposes.
Paul replied, “If you look at my positions, I had the same position under President Obama that I have under President Trump, and that is that the power to listen to people’s conversation — your private conversation — are private and nobody else’s business, and the government should not reveal that.”
The senator made media rounds outside cable news this week, with Friday’s appearance on “The View” coming in the wake of Paul’s interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Wednesday. Paul discussed many topics on The Late Show, including how the war on drugs has disproportionately impacted minorities.
The senator revisited this issue during his Friday appearance on “The View” as well.
Disclosure: I co-authored the 2011 book The Tea Party Goes to Washington with Sen. Rand Paul.