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Wednesday November 22nd, 2017 6:56PM

Attorney: Sen. Paul attack was over 'trivial' dispute

By The Associated Press
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) — An assault of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul by a longtime next-door neighbor was not motivated by political differences but by a dispute "most people would find trivial," an attorney for the man charged in the attack said Monday.

Attorney Matt Baker did not say what dispute prompted the attack that stunned the Bowling Green community and left Paul, 54, with five broken ribs.

Police charged 59-year-old Rene Boucher with misdemeanor fourth-degree assault with a minor injury. Records show he was released from jail on Saturday on a $7,500 bond. He has not returned multiple calls seeking comment.

Boucher and Paul have been neighbors for 17 years, the attorney said. Paul is an ophthalmologist and Boucher is an anesthesiologist. Baker called them "both prominent members of the medical community" who "worked together when they were both practicing physicians."

"The unfortunate occurrence of Nov. 3 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," Baker said in an email to The Associated Press. "We sincerely hope that Sen. Paul is doing well and that these two gentlemen can get back to being neighbors as quickly as possible."

Baker said in an interview later, "This is just a profoundly unfortunate set of circumstances that I'm sure that if everyone had it to do over again, it would be done completely differently." He declined to say what might have triggered the incident, adding he thinks he has a "pretty good idea."

"I'd like to do my due diligence before I'm any more specific," Baker said.

Doug Stafford, Paul's senior adviser, called the case a "serious criminal matter involving state and federal authorities." He has said the attack could potentially lead to "life-threatening injuries."

State police asked at least one reporter to leave the gated neighborhood Monday afternoon.

A friend of Paul's told The Washington Post that the senator was mowing his lawn at the time of the attack. According to an arrest warrant, Paul told police Boucher came onto his property and tackled him from behind, forcing him to the ground.

Stafford said Paul's injuries were caused by "high velocity severe force." He said it's unclear when Paul could return to work. He said Paul is in considerable pain and having trouble getting around.

Baker said Boucher didn't suffer any injuries.

Paul's absence from the Senate creates another challenge for a slim Republican majority that's caused heartburn for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. On Monday, McConnell wished his fellow Kentuckian a speedy recovery and said the GOP "need all hands on deck, all the time."

"Every day's a Maalox moment," McConnell joked, before turning serious about the ramifications of having a Republican member away from the Senate for a prolonged time.

"I've got a 52 to 48 majority, and as you saw on several occasions, we're not always totally in lockstep," he said. "Anytime we have a senator on our side who's not there, it's potentially a challenge."

Asked if he might have to delay some votes, McConnell said: "I haven't had a chance to check with him (Paul) yet today about it."

___

Beam reported from Frankfort, Kentucky. Beam can be reached at https://twitter.com/adambeam.

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