The story of Rand Paul allegedly being attacked by a neighbor — and breaking six ribs in the process — is strange on its face.
The initial explanation offered by some neighbors of both men and the attacker’s lawyer — that the episode occurred due to a dispute over leaves or grass trimmings — was even stranger.
Rene Boucher pleaded not guilty Thursday morning in a Bowling Green courtroom to misdemeanor fourth degree assault charges stemming from the Nov. 3 incident in the gated community where the two men live.
Paul’s decision on Wednesday night to tweet two stories — one from Breitbart, the other from the Washington Examiner — that call into question the flora and fauna explanation is even stranger still.
Both stories feature quotes from other neighbors insisting that the initial reporting that this attack was the result of a “landscaping dispute” (how amazing is that phrase?) is, in fact, fake news.
“The stories of a ‘landscaping dispute’ or a dispute of any sort between Rand Paul and Rene Boucher are erroneous and unfounded,” a Paul neighbor named Travis Creed told the Washington Examiner. “The reason for Mr. Boucher’s bizarre attack is known only to him. Statements to the contrary are irresponsible and unnecessary.”
The two stories — which have lots of similarities, including the quote above from Creed — appear to represent a concerted effort by Paul allies to not only raise questions about the current story of the attack but also suggest that the real motivations of Paul’s attacker were political.
To that point, here’s the lede of the Washington Examiner story:
“The Bowling Green, Ky., neighbor who allegedly attacked Sen. Rand Paul last weekend, causing six broken ribs, was aggressively anti-Trump and anti-GOP in his social media, calling for the impeachment of the president and urging Russia investigator Robert Mueller to ‘fry Trump’s gonads.'”
“Captured screen grabs of Rene Boucher’s Facebook page provided to Secrets and taken down since the event also show that the anesthesiologist was a fan of the #NeverTrump clan.”
Paul himself has not said anything publicly about what he believes the motive was for the attack. But, his retweets — from his official Senate account no less! — suggest he sees things very differently than the public narrative.
That narrative was initially set by a lawyer for Boucher. In explaining the attack, lawyer Matthew Baker said:
“Senator Paul and Dr. Boucher have been next door neighbors for 17 years. The unfortunate occurrence of November 3rd has absolutely nothing to do with either’s politics or political agendas. It was a very regrettable dispute between two neighbors over a matter that most people would regard as trivial.”
So, what the heck is actually going on here? Was it a landscaping dispute? Was it that Boucher didn’t like Paul’s politics? And what exactly is a “matter that most people would regard as trivial?”
What we know is that we have a US senator who was attacked outside his home by a neighbor, an attack so severe that Paul has six broken ribs and, according to his Twitter feed, a “pleural effusion.”
The “why” is the part on which there is much dispute. Which is kind of crazy if you think about it.
Update at 1:05 p.m. ET — In a new statement to CNN’s Drew Griffin, Paul’s attorney Doug Stafford called the incident “a serious criminal matter involving serious injury.” He said both local and federal authorities are looking into it and added the two men had not spoken for years beforehand.
“This was not a ‘fight,’ it was a blindside, violent attack by a disturbed person. Anyone claiming otherwise is either uninformed or seeking media attention.”