Despite Paul's opposition, controversial Obama nominee expected to clear Senate hurdle
May 21st, 2014
10:59 AM ET
6 years ago

Despite Paul's opposition, controversial Obama nominee expected to clear Senate hurdle

Washington (CNN) – Sen. Rand Paul took to the Senate floor Wednesday to deliver a 31-minute speech in opposition to the judicial nomination of a former Justice Department official, David Barron.

Barron has drawn the ire of senators on the right and left for legal memos he wrote justifying the killing of an American terrorism suspect overseas with drones.

"I rise today to oppose the nomination of anyone who would argue that the President has the power to kill American citizens not involved in combat," Paul said on the Senate floor.

Senators, however, believe they have the votes needed to break to break the GOP filibuster of the Harvard law professor to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, which is based in Boston.

In order to secure at least 51 Democratic votes to overcome the filibuster, the White House took the extraordinary step last week of sending the unredacted Justice Department memos to Capitol Hill where senators from both parties could review them in a classified setting in the basement of the Capitol. Top White House lawyers also met privately with Democratic senators to explain the memos and respond to concerns.

"Once everything was explained," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the Democratic leader, said Tuesday. "Most everyone in our caucus is satisfied."

The administration is preparing to release one of those memos to the public for the first time, officials said Tuesday, though it won't be made public right away. It has to go through a redaction process that will need to be approved by a judge, according to the administration officials.

Paul, who has spearheaded GOP opposition to Barron, is joined by a handful of Democratic senators and the liberal American Civil Liberties Union in opposing Barron.

At issue are memos Barron wrote while working in the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department, which gave the legal reasoning for killing Anwar al-Awlaki, a suspected American al Qaeda operative who was killed with CIA drones in September, 2011.

"It isn't about seeing the Barron memos," Paul said. "It is about what they say. I believe the Barron memos disrespect the Bill of Rights."

The Kentucky Republican, who has loudly opposed this issue in the past, said he's not trying to defend "traitors."

"I can't stand the thought of Americans who consort with and advocate for the enemy. I want to punish Americans who are traitors to their country. But I am also conscious of what these traitors have betrayed," he said.

"These traitors are betraying a country that holds dear the precept that we are innocent until proven guilty," he continued. "Aren't we, in a way, betraying our country's principles when we relinquish the right to a jury trial?"

The potential presidential contender famously carried out a 13-hour filibuster over a similar issue. Last time, he was trying to block the nomination of John Brennan to become director of the CIA.

However, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid invoked the "nuclear option" late last year, making it incredibly difficult for filibusters to occur against certain presidential nominations.

Paul lamented Wednesday that he would not be able to effectively try and block the nomination under the new Senate rules.

"This nomination would not go forward were it not for the elimination of the filibuster," he said.

Paul said he would come back to the floor later Wednesday to propose postponing the vote until after the public has had a chance to read the Barron memo.

It's unlikely Democrats, who have pushed hard for Barron's confirmation, would agree to Paul's request.


Filed under: Justice Department • President Obama • Rand Paul • Senate
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Lynda/Minnesota

    tom l
    Alison Grimes said in her speech last night that Barack Obama is not on the ballot. We'll see if she's right or wrong
    -----–

    So, this is what it comes down to, tom I. Red State America doesn't "like" the current President of the United States so they are encouraged to vote for the bottom feeders? McConnell's approval is lower than Obama's. But, do vote for the man who's only goal thus far in his thirty plus year career is to make the current President of the United States a two-term president (and then spend the next 4 years railing against that President ... again)?

    I get it, tom I. I really do.

    May 21, 2014 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  2. Silence DoGood

    "It isn't about seeing the Barron memos," Paul said.
    "Paul ... to propose postponing the vote until after the public has had a chance to read the Barron memo."
    ----------
    Wait – so Paul is saying it isn't AND it is about seeing the memo? In the same day?
    Classic conservative in libertarian clothing: Make stuff up as you go as long as you get to tear down a president you hate..

    May 21, 2014 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  3. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    "I rise today to oppose the nomination of anyone who would argue that the President has the power to kill American citizens not involved in combat,"
    ---------------------------------
    Those so called "militia men" at the Bundy ranch are domestic terrorists taking up arms against the federal government and I think the President has the authority to drop a hellfire missle on them and not think twice about it. Speaking of drones, that's precisely what 24: Live Another Day's plot is about.

    May 21, 2014 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  4. Gurgyl

    This bickering needs to be stopped. We need to pass some of the important reforms such as earmark, voter, term-limits, filibuster etc. Well, Bush nominated–GOP was silent, why turmoil?

    May 21, 2014 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  5. Tommy G

    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA – Take Back the House
    "I rise today to oppose the nomination of anyone who would argue that the President has the power to kill American citizens not involved in combat,"
    -----------
    Those so called "militia men" at the Bundy ranch are domestic terrorists taking up arms against the federal government and I think the President has the authority to drop a hellfire missle on them and not think twice about it. Speaking of drones, that's precisely what 24: Live Another Day's plot is about.
    -–

    Like I have said... the looney leftists are the greatest danger to this country and your freedom, and now apparently to your life.

    May 21, 2014 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  6. S.B. Stein

    I understand Paul's concern about US citizens overseas being targeted and killed without a trial. I guess the question there is about the ability to try the person in abstenia first before being targeted and killed. They should have a public trial with someone there to at least to try to defend the person or question the evidence. The target should at least be made aware that there will be a trial and is requested to appear.

    May 21, 2014 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  7. sonny chapman

    Rand must have his daily temper tantrum.

    May 21, 2014 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  8. CryBabies

    Lynda....Wheres the mystery? Each party's goal is to make the oppositions leader a one term President. Surely you know that. If there is something else on your mind, say it.

    May 21, 2014 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  9. Rick McDaniel

    Only because the Dems used bad policy to get control of the vote.

    May 21, 2014 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  10. Lynda/Minnesota

    CryBabies
    Lynda....Wheres the mystery? Each party's goal is to make the oppositions leader a one term President. Surely you know that. If there is something else on your mind, say it.
    ---------

    Here you go again trying to make mush out of hay. Whatever. Just between you and me, Crybaby ... Bush was the last Republican president I voted for. Conversely, Obama was the first Democratic president I've ever voted for.

    As it stands today ... Bush will remain the last Republican President I ever vote for.

    There. I got it off my mind ... just for you.

    And by the way. In case you haven't noticed, might I also point out for you that I'm not much into the whole "opposition" political fodder talking point nonsense.

    May 21, 2014 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  11. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    Tommy G
    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA – Take Back the House
    "I rise today to oppose the nomination of anyone who would argue that the President has the power to kill American citizens not involved in combat,"
    ---–
    Those so called "militia men" at the Bundy ranch are domestic terrorists taking up arms against the federal government and I think the President has the authority to drop a hellfire missle on them and not think twice about it. Speaking of drones, that's precisely what 24: Live Another Day's plot is about.
    -–

    Like I have said... the looney leftists are the greatest danger to this country and your freedom, and now apparently to your life.
    ---------------------------------
    Cry me a river for Christ's sake. If you're an "American" and you take up arms against America(clearly which the "militia men" did), then you are an enemy of America and should be dealt with accordingly. Mr. Bundy has broken federal law. The federal government has every right to enforce it's laws. For an armed "militia" to take up arms against federal agents is an act of treason.

    May 21, 2014 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  12. tom l

    Lynda/Minnesota

    tom l
    Alison Grimes said in her speech last night that Barack Obama is not on the ballot. We'll see if she's right or wrong
    -––

    So, this is what it comes down to, tom I. Red State America doesn't "like" the current President of the United States so they are encouraged to vote for the bottom feeders? McConnell's approval is lower than Obama's. But, do vote for the man who's only goal thus far in his thirty plus year career is to make the current President of the United States a two-term president (and then spend the next 4 years railing against that President ... again)?

    =====

    All I said was that if McConnell wins then it will be about Obama's policies. If Grimes wins, then it will be about McConnell. What is wrong with that? I was merely commenting on Grimes' speech last night where she said that Obama is not on the ballot. No, he's not on the ballot. But I do believe his POLICIES will be on the ballot metaphorically speaking. And then all I said was we will see who is right. My goodness.

    I get it, tom I. I really do.

    May 21, 2014 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    "Sen. Rand Paul took to the Senate floor Wednesday to deliver a 31-minute speech in opposition to the judicial nomination of a former Justice Department official, David Barron. "
    --------------------------------------
    "Sen. Rand Paul took to the Senate floor Wednesday to deliver a 31-minute smear speech about his opposition to Pres. Obama's judicial nomination of a former Justice Department official, David Barron. "

    FIFY – Who says members of Congress cannot use the Capitol Building for campaign purposes.

    May 21, 2014 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    "Each party's goal is to make the oppositions leader a one term President."

    The difference lies in the means. No POTUS since Lincoln has faced an opposition party hellbent on doing everything possible to manufacture and cause failure, crises and damage that they can then turn around and try to blame on him.

    May 21, 2014 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  15. Deadly Incompetent Government

    You are all expendable to this government. Whether you are an American overseas, an ambassador in Benghazi or a veteran trying to get the medical treatment you need to survive. Wait to you see how little you are worth when government takes over healthcare completely.

    May 21, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  16. sonny chapman

    Didn't all of you Bundy supporters get the Memo: Hannity has dropped Bundy like a hot potato. Remember George Orwell. "We are at war w/the Green Team.". We are not at war w/the Green Team".

    May 21, 2014 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  17. Sniffit

    "All I said was that if McConnell wins then it will be about Obama's policies."

    And even if he wins, the fact that Grimes is giving him such a run for his money and the race is so close it can't be called means that it's just as much about McConnell's policies and behavior. McConnell winning by a percentage point or so would be a HUGE embarrassment for him. Losing by any margin, on the other hand, is a massive rebuff of his actions and rhetoric over the past 6+ years.

    May 21, 2014 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  18. Vince

    In most cases, its probably the best idea to find out how Ron or Rand Paul feel about any topic...and do the exact opposite.

    May 21, 2014 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  19. Tommy G

    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA – Take Back the House
    Cry me a river for Christ's sake. If you're an "American" and you take up arms against America(clearly which the "militia men" did), then you are an enemy of America and should be dealt with accordingly. Mr. Bundy has broken federal law. The federal government has every right to enforce it's laws. For an armed "militia" to take up arms against federal agents is an act of treason.
    ---

    Hmmm.... I do believe it was the federal government that decided it was of utmost importance to send in a heavily armed swat team armed with assualt rifles, in order to remove CATTLE. Talk about total insanity (they spent nearly a million). Had our own government decided to start shooting, it would have proven it is no longer our government. Had they started shooting fellow Americans involved in civil protest it would have demanded those people defend themselves. Lucky for the government they made the correct call. I know you clowns on the left what like to just kill anybody that oppposes you but that is not what a responsible government does.

    May 21, 2014 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  20. Lynda/Minnesota

    Sniffit
    "Each party's goal is to make the oppositions leader a one term President."

    The difference lies in the means. No POTUS since Lincoln has faced an opposition party hellbent on doing everything possible to manufacture and cause failure, crises and damage that they can then turn around and try to blame on him.
    --------------

    I've never seen a party membership so hell bent on dragging an entire country down quite like the GOP has done this past 5+ years simply because ... well, you understand.

    To think they are willing to vote McConnell another term in the Senate is mind boggling. He of all people in Congress has been the least productive over the years.

    Nothing (and I mean nothing) that has come out of this man's mouth over the years can be considered truthful in any way, shape, or form.

    / popcorn

    May 21, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    " I do believe it was the federal government that decided it was of utmost importance to send in a heavily armed swat team armed with assualt rifles, in order to remove CATTLE.

    First, no SWAT team....they don't have one and they don't train as one. Second, when you've been informed that there have been threats that any attempt to confiscate the cattle pursuant to the court's judgments and orders will be met with violence, you show up prepared. These people instigated the need for the BLM folks to come prepared to defend themselves and now idiots like you want to pretend it was the other way around. WRONG. The facts completely disprove that. These pseudo-militia daycamp warriors had people posted on overpasses with rifles, etc. Of course the law enforcement officers sent to lawfully confiscate the cattle came to the scene wearing protection and armed to defend themselves. Moreover, your efforts to pretend that these law enforcement folks were going to open fire first is just completely and utterly dishonest and nothing more than an effort to sow paranoid delusions so you don't have to be alone with yours.

    May 21, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  22. Silence DoGood

    @tom l
    Lynda/Minnesota

    tom l
    Alison Grimes said in her speech last night that Barack Obama is not on the ballot. We'll see if she's right or wrong
    -––

    So, this is what it comes down to, tom I. Red State America doesn't "like" the current President of the United States so they are encouraged to vote for the bottom feeders? McConnell's approval is lower than Obama's. But, do vote for the man who's only goal thus far in his thirty plus year career is to make the current President of the United States a two-term president (and then spend the next 4 years railing against that President ... again)?

    =====

    All I said was that if McConnell wins then it will be about Obama's policies. If Grimes wins, then it will be about McConnell. What is wrong with that? I was merely commenting on Grimes' speech last night where she said that Obama is not on the ballot. No, he's not on the ballot. But I do believe his POLICIES will be on the ballot metaphorically speaking. And then all I said was we will see who is right. My goodness.
    ---------–
    Actually TomL, you refer to Obama on the ballot. I can see it right there. Not policies.
    And I suppose it is a complete coincidence that just now (May 20, 2014 Snopes debunk) there is a resurgence of the "Obama will change the law to allow third term" conspiracy theory?

    May 21, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  23. Rudy NYC

    "This nomination would not go forward were it not for the elimination of the filibuster," he [Sen. Paul] said.
    --------------------------------------–
    Number one, the filibuster has not been eliminated, as evidenced by recent Republican filibusters. With close to 150 appointees being held up by silent filibusters, Majority Leader Reid and Democrats changed the rules regarding filibusters on executive appointees.

    It was not what would have done, though. I would have eliminated the use of the silent filibuster. The real problem is that we currently have more Republican filibusters in progress, than we have Republicans in the Senate. You cannot filibuster more than one bill at once when you have to take to the Senate floor, and actually do it.

    May 21, 2014 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    Deadly Incompetent Government

    You are all expendable to this government. Whether you are an American overseas, an ambassador in Benghazi or a veteran trying to get the medical treatment you need to survive.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    If these issues are really such a problem for you, you should be thanking God for President Obama, because the problems have always been there but before President Obama was elected nobody cared.

    May 21, 2014 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  25. Thomas

    Rand looks like he needs some sleep !

    May 21, 2014 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
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