Sen. Paul sounds off on fallout over immigration plan

Lawmaker discusses congressional hearing over executive action


This is a rush transcript from "The Kelly File," December 2, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MEGYN KELLY, HOST: New fallout tonight from the first congressional hearing on President Obama's executive action on immigration, a move he made despite repeatedly insisting he did not have the power to do it. Department of Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson was the star witness today. He's been called the author of the administration's executive action. He defended his boss and then was asked to defend his boss' reversal. Watch.


REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL, R-TEXAS: The president said over 20 times that he did not have the legal authority to do this, to take this executive action, and that this is not how democracy works. Do you agree with that prior statement?

JEH JOHNSON, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY CHIEF: I've looked at various excerpts of remarks by the president concerning his legal authority to act. I do not believe that what we have done is inconsistent with that.


KELLY: Really? Next week, the Senate takes up this issue, and moments ago, I spoke with Senator Rand Paul.


KELLY: Senator, good to see you tonight. So Jeh Johnson assures us that the president did not contradict himself and that we should not believe our lying eyes. The very same thing President Obama tried to tell George Stephanopoulos a week ago Sunday. Do you believe the president has reversed himself?

SEN. RAND PAUL, R-KY.: I don't even know how you can, with a straight face, defend the indefensible. How do you defend against the president's actual words 20 times saying he didn't have the power? The president went even so far as to say he's not a king, he's not an emperor, that he can't do this. Now, we have a complete about face and everybody will say oh, well, the president changed his mind.

KELLY: Is this not disrespectful? I mean, why not just say, yes, he reversed himself and then the president can explain why he did that. I took a closer look at the law. I didn't believe it went as far, now I believe that it does. Why look us in the face and try to tell us what we saw on camera two dozen times did not exist and we were just too stupid to understand?

PAUL: Well, you know, I think this isn't just one issue. There's a pattern of this type of behavior. On ObamaCare, they've amended Obama care after the fact without any congressional authority. They're now doing it on immigration. They've also done it on war powers as well. The constitution gives this power to congress, and yet, the president just says I'll do it. But when the president ran for office, he said adamantly he didn't have the power to do war also without congressional authority. So he's changed his mind on a host of issues.

KELLY: With respect to immigration, there's now a discussion within the GOP as to how to handle what the president has done. Forget his reversal, his clear reversal on what he said two dozen times. The fact is he's now done it. What is the GOP going to do about it? People are outraged. Some people are talking about defunding at least parts of the budget request and so on. Here's what Charles Krauthammer said on "Special Report" yesterday.


CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I understand the pent-up anger and the rage over the president's unconstitutional action, but the cure for that is to go see a psychiatrist, not to vote in the Congress and shut down the government. The Republicans are ahead, they shouldn't blow it.


KELLY: What do you think?

PAUL: Well, you know, Charles is a fellow physician and a psychiatrist. I hesitate to argue against Charles. But I actually think Charles is right on this. I think shutting down the government won't do any good. We don't have the power until January comes. In January, though, we have the power to write all of the appropriations bills and to, in minute detail, tell the president how the money is to be spent. So we have a great deal of power beginning in January. I think we should use all of that. But we shouldn't use it to shut down the government in December. I don't think that will help anybody.

KELLY: And so what do you think is the point of these congressional hearings? Is there one?

PAUL: You know, I think we should have the hearings to get to the bottom of it and to make the president come forward and basically admit to hypocrisy, but also investigate and determine did he change the law. I think, frankly, he did change the law. One of the things the House is doing, which is good, is I understand they're going to pass a bill that says this executive action would be repealed. It won't pass the Senate, but by showing their will and intention, I think it helps the constitutional case.

In the 1950s, we overturned an executive order of Harry Truman because the court said that it went against the will of Congress. So by the House passing its will and examining and displaying the immigration law indicates otherwise, I think it will help bolster their constitutional case.

KELLY: I want to ask you about your political future because you made news today. It's official. You're running for re-election as a senator from Kentucky. It was done without a lot of fanfare. You've stayed in Washington. Some have said A, he can't do that because there's this weird Kentucky law that says he can't be on the ballot twice. So you can't have both your names for president and your name for senator. So first, let me get you to address that. Do you believe you can legally do both at the same time in Kentucky?

PAUL: Well, right now we're only announcing for one office, so it's really not a controversy.

KELLY: Hypothetically.

PAUL: But let's say, hypothetically in the spring we're having this discussion again and we were considering running for the nomination, I think there are many different ways it could be done. Probably the simplest way is that the primaries in Kentucky are controlled by the party and we could simply move up our primary, make it a caucus, we'd be more relevant and then the law wouldn't apply. So that's probably the easiest way to fix things should I decide to run.

KELLY: What do you make of the fact that there's a CNN poll that came out today that said you don't crack the top five GOP contenders. Apparently, it went to Romney, Carson, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and Huckabee -- very dicey word -- and then you. So do you think you could switch that around just in case hypothetically you decided to?

PAUL: You know, I would say we'd make the argument that it's still fairly early and that polls may change and really I haven't decided, but that's part of the decision-making process. Is the message that I'm bringing to the country, is it viable? Is it something that's enough different that Republicans will pause and say, you know what? This is a Republican that can attract African-American vote. This is a Republican that can attract independent vote. Is that going to resonate enough to pull new people into the party so say hey, this is a party big enough to win Illinois, a party big enough to win Pennsylvania and Ohio again. That's what the debate will be about. We'll see things where come down. I'll make my decision probably in the March-April timeframe.

KELLY: Jeb Bush was considered to have taken some sort of a shot at conservative Republicans yesterday suggesting that the GOP doesn't need conservatives to win the White House and what it needs is a candidate who would be willing to lose the primary in order to win the general. Your thoughts on that?

PAUL: I think your first mistake is when you talk about conservatives in the third person, if you don't consider that it's a "we" rather than "them," you really miss what's going on in the Republican Party. We are a conservative party. As a conservative, I can't understand really even referring to conservatives in the third person.

KELLY: Rand Paul, good to see you, Senator. All the best to you.

PAUL: Thank you.

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