Sen. Rand Paul questions Obama's leadership

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," June 17, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Joining me now with reaction is Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. Sir, welcome to the program.

SEN. RAND PAUL, R-KY.: Good to be with you, Sean.

HANNITY: All right. What's your reaction? Because with the Fox News numbers that came out last week, very, very similar, honesty, trustworthy, seems like it's a free fall.

PAUL: Well, I think the president leads in two fashions, he is the legal authority by being elected, but you also need moral authority, and I think this constellation of scandals, really he's losing his moral authority to lead the nation. The other thing I think people don't like is hypocrisy. He said he was going to protect the privacy, he said, he would protect the Fourth Amendment.

He appeared to care and he still sounds like he does, but then he does the complete opposite and then you have his director of intelligence who looks straight at a senator and says, we're not collecting any data on Americans, when, in fact, the truth is, they're collecting a billion phone calls every day.

HANNITY: Yes. I once asked you, how do you describe yourself politically? You know, Republican, Democrat, libertarian, and your answer was interesting to me. You said constitutional conservative.

PAUL: Yes --

HANNITY: Go ahead.

PAUL: I would say I'm an originalist. You know, I like Scalia, I like Thomas on the court. There are my two favorites. And I think we look back at the real meaning about the Constitution was, and it did mean you had a certain degree of privacy that the Fourth Amendment granted. And we've been going in the wrong direction for a long time. So, this is a very healthy debate if the country will have it, but the debate is not about the person or the leaker, it's also not about the national intelligence director lying, it's really about whether or not your private records, when someone else holds them, or a bank holds them or a visa company holds them, whether you still should have privacy.

HANNITY: How do you think the scandals collectively impact, you know, constitutional issues of our time?

PAUL: You know, they add to each other, and I think the IRS scandal is a very damaging to the president's credibility, because it appears as if he's targeting political opponents, and now it turns out that the woman who took the Fifth Amendment, used to be in the FEC. And she was threatening rRpublican candidates as much as 10 or 15 years ago. I wonder if this goes deeper into the culture of a government union that runs the IRS, and whether or not there is an animus towards any of us who want to lower taxation and have limited government. I think really there has to be top- to-bottom reviewing of the IRS at large. Because is there a systemic problem over there?

HANNITY: All right. Let me ask about the immigration bill which now is making its way through the Senate. Lindsey Graham said this weekend that Hispanics caused Romney the election. And if we don't pass immigration reform, we don't get it off the table, we're in a demographic death spiral. Do you think he's right on that?

PAUL: I absolutely believe that we need to be more inclusive and that we need to go out and talk to Hispanics and Latinos, and tell them why the Republican Party is a good fit for them. I don't agree that that means we choke on and vote on anything, even a bad bill.

Recently, the proponents, the "Gang of Eight" are saying that legalization happens before we get to border security. That's the opposite of what conservatives want. I have an amendment Trust But Verify, but it guarantees that the legalization is dependent upon border security and only if the border get more secure, does legalization happen. That's the only thing the House would accept, and so, they are going down a path, saying they are going to legalize people whether we get border security. That won't fly in the House.

HANNITY: Do you think they want this to fail? Meaning, the Democrats because they can use it as a wedge issue?

PAUL: Some do. Some are disingenuous about this and could care less. Some honestly want it to pass. I am actually a Republican who honestly wants to fix the system. Because we got 10 million to 11 million here illegally because the legal immigrations system broken. So, I do want to fix that. But I can't just vote for any bill if it's not going to secure the border first.

HANNITY: Let me go to a couple of quotes going back to the issue of Snowden and him revealing the secrets. Let me put a couple of things that he said. One, he said, "All I can say right now is the U.S. government is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or murdering me. Truth is coming and it cannot be stopped." And then he said, "No. I've had no contact with the Chinese government, just like The Guardian and The Washington Post, I only work with journalists."

There's been a lot of discussion in the country about whether he is a hero or a traitor. I am glad this information came out, because I think the American people have a right to know, I'm also concern though about revealing secrets. What's your take on it?

PAUL: You know, I think if he had revealed a computer program that showed how we eavesdropped on people who are enemies, that would be a very serious crime. But he revealed something that the media complained everybody already knew about it anyway. So, we did. I had been revealed, The New York Times have revealed it. We passed special legislation -- I voted against all of this. But they did pass special legislation authorizing it.

But he still feels like it goes against the Fourth Amendment and what the Constitution and the Bill of Rights stands for. I tend to agree with his position (INAUDIBLE) on deciding when you decide to become a civil disobedient. You know, we had famous ones in our career. Some of them only had to serve like one day in jail. Martin Luther King served 30 days in jail. He may be looking at live in prison. So, there's a question. People are saying, oh, we ought to just come home, but I don't know if that's a good or bad idea if he's facing life in prison.

HANNITY: Yes. Let me ask you about this, this trip that the president in Dublin for the I guess the G-8 summit and the first lady has an entourage of 30, a $3,300 a night beautiful suite, pretty good life that you can have it. There's an upcoming trip to Africa later this month that is expected to cost $60 million to $100 million for taxpayers, but the president couldn't keep the White House open. Do you see a correlation there?

PAUL: Well, you know, we also don't have the Capitol Police guarding all the entrances to the Senate buildings anymore because the sequester, but we had enough for travel. We also had 225 IRS travel trips last year to the tune of $4 million they spent, it was over a two-year period.

So, really, you know, it's crazy what's going on with government travel, government expense. Overall, federal employees spent $9 billion on travel. And when all this came out about the sequester, I proposed that we cut it by 25 percent, don't let it affect the military, just cut everybody else by 25 percent, and it'd save over $2 billion. So, I think there's room for cutting and they ought to look in the mirror maybe.

HANNITY: All right. You've had a lot of trips recently. Let me say, you've been in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, very interesting states that you've been traveling to, Senator. How is one to interpret your travel schedule?

PAUL: Well, you know, when you go to the early primary states, people do pay attention, and right now, I want them to pay attention to the fact that I want a bigger Republican Party that competes in all 50 states, I want to go from five percent of the African-American vote to at least 20, 25 percent of the African-American vote in one election. If we do that, all the states where we're not competitive, all of a sudden they've become competitive again.

HANNITY: And that means, you are really seriously thinking about it.

PAUL: We're thinking about growing the party. What comes after that, we'll see.

HANNITY: You know, you are not giving me any information. You're making it hard. I'm trying hard here, Senator. Not breaking news tonight, I got it.

PAUL: I'm trying to give you a scoop. The best I got.

HANNITY: All right. Good to see you, Senator Rand Paul. Thanks for being with us.

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