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Tuesday November 21st, 2017 8:53AM

Rand Paul back in the Senate, walking gingerly after assault

By The Associated Press
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Walking gingerly, Sen. Rand Paul returned to the Senate on Monday following an attack in his yard that left him with six broken ribs.

The Kentucky Republican cast votes with his arms at his sides, finding it difficult to execute the customary Senate step of raising a hand and signaling yes or no. He simply expressed his decision to a Senate clerk before chatting briefly with several senators.

As Paul arrived in the Capitol, a smiling Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., extended his hand to Paul, but he declined to shake it, indicating even that minor motion would cause discomfort.

"While I'm still in a good deal of pain, I will be returning to work in the Senate today, ready to fight for liberty and help move forward with tax cuts in the coming days and weeks," Paul posted on his Twitter account earlier in the day.

He declined to answer reporters' questions about the assault.

Paul's return was welcomed by President Donald Trump, who tweeted from the Philippines, "Great to see @RandPaul looking well and back on the Senate floor." Trump said on the final day of his lengthy trip to Asia that Paul would "help us with TAX CUTS and REFORM!"

Paul was attacked Nov. 3 while mowing his lawn, authorities said. Robert Porter, Paul's close friend of 20 years, said the senator had gotten off his riding lawn mower to remove a limb when he was tackled from behind. Porter said Paul was wearing ear protection, so he did not hear the attack coming.

Police charged Paul's neighbor Rene Boucher with misdemeanor assault. Boucher pleaded not guilty last week in Bowling Green and could face more charges. The FBI is investigating to see if any federal laws were broken.

Boucher and Paul have been neighbors for 17 years. Boucher's attorney said the attack was not motivated by politics but "by a dispute most people would find trivial." He has not elaborated.

Some residents of the gated neighborhood where Paul and Boucher live have speculated the attack was prompted by a long-simmering lawn care dispute between the two men. Paul's senior adviser Doug Stafford has denied the two men had a dispute of any kind, saying Paul had not had a conversation with Boucher in years.

"This was not a fight, it was a blind side, violent attack by a disturbed person," Stafford said in a statement last week.

Boucher's attorney, Matt Baker, said it appears Paul has hired a personal injury lawyer, which could mean he is planning a lawsuit. Paul's office has declined to comment on that.

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Associated Press writer Ken Thomas contributed to this report.

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