Motive mystery in Rand Paul attack: Neighbor's lawyer says it had 'nothing to do' with politics

The attorney for the man accused of violently attacking Sen. Rand Paul in his own yard said Monday that the clash had “absolutely nothing to do” with politics and was a dispute over something “trivial” – deepening the mystery over what led to the attack that left the Republican senator with five broken ribs.

The attack was serious enough that it’s unclear when Paul will return to work on Capitol Hill.

But 59-year-old Rene Boucher was released on $7,500 bail Saturday and – so far – faces only a misdemeanor charge. While more charges could be forthcoming, it remains unclear exactly what led to the attack in the first place.

Matthew J. Baker, an attorney for the defendant, said in a statement Monday to Fox News that his client and the senator have been neighbors for 17 years and were “prominent members of the local medical community and worked together when they were both practicing physicians.”

But in the thick of intense congressional debates over taxes and health care, Baker said politics was not the issue.

“The unfortunate occurrence of November 3rd has absolutely nothing to do with either's politics or political agendas,” he said. “It was a very regrettable dispute between two neighbors over a matter that most people would regard as trivial. We sincerely hope that Senator Paul is doing well and that these two gentlemen can get back to being neighbors as quickly as possible.”

This photo provided by the Warren County Regional Jail shows Rene Boucher, who has been arrested and charged with assaulting and injuring U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. Kentucky State Police said in a news release Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017 that Paul suffered a minor injury when 59-year-old Rene Boucher assaulted him at his Warren County home on Friday afternoon.

This photo provided by the Warren County Regional Jail shows Rene Boucher, who has been arrested and charged with assaulting and injuring U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. Kentucky State Police said in a news release Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017 that Paul suffered a minor injury when 59-year-old Rene Boucher assaulted him at his Warren County home on Friday afternoon. (Warren County Regional Jail via AP)

He did not elaborate.

The New York Times reported that the fight may have stemmed from some kind of planting dispute around their properties. It added that Paul was wearing earphones and mowing his lawn when the assault began.

According to the jailer at Warren County Regional Jail, Boucher was released on $7,500 bail Saturday.

“He faces Assault in the 4th degree, minor injury,” Jailer Stephen Harmon told Fox News on Monday, pointing further inquiries to the Kentucky State Police. “Other charges may be pending.”

But Paul, R-Ky., appears to be facing more than a “minor injury,” according to updates from his office. On Sunday, Paul was recovering from five broken ribs, including three displaced fractures, after he was assaulted by the attacker who tackled him from behind at his home.

The Kentucky State Police told Fox News they are still running an active and open investigation and just learned of Paul’s condition.

State Police told Fox News on Monday that in Kentucky, there is a statute that considers an assault a felony only if there is serious physical injury.

Though the State Police was unable to provide Fox News a timeline for when their investigation will be complete, a spokesman said “it is up to Commonwealth prosecutors” whether Boucher’s charges could change from misdemeanor to felony, depending on the severity of Paul’s injuries.

“Prosecutors will review our case in its entirety and they’ll make a determination if it will be bumped up to felony,” Jeremy Hodges, master trooper and public affairs officer for Kentucky State Police Post 3 at Bowling Green, told Fox News on Monday. “The senator’s injuries are part of the investigation.”

When asked about a possible motive for Boucher, Hodges told Fox News that it was something they could not release, as “it is an active investigation” and that they are “bound by security measures in place for the senator.”

Boucher's next court appearance is set for Thursday morning.

Doug Stafford, a senior adviser to Paul, told Fox News that it is unclear when Paul will return to work because he is in “considerable pain” and has difficulty getting around, including flying. Stafford said this type of injury is marked by severe pain that can last for weeks or even months.

“This type of injury is caused by high velocity severe force,” Stafford said in a statement to Fox News.

“Displaced rib fractures can lead to life-threatening injuries such as: hemopneumothorax, pneumothorax, pneumonia, internal bleeding, laceration of internal organs and lung contusions. Senator Paul does have lung contusions currently,” Stafford said.

The Bowling Green Daily News reported that an arrest warrant said Paul told police his neighbor came onto his property and tackled him from behind Friday, forcing him to the ground, all while the senator was mowing his lawn. He had trouble breathing because of the rib injury, the warrant said.

Sunday’s disclosures about the senator's condition came a day after Paul’s office said the senator was fine and characterized his injuries as minor.

Paul and his wife, Kelley, “appreciate everyone’s thoughts and well wishes and he will be back fighting for liberty in the Senate soon,” Stafford said.

Fox News' Chad Pergram and Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.