Paul threatens hold on FBI nominee over domestic drone policy

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said he would put a hold on the nomination of James Comey, President Obama’s pick to head the FBI, until the administration answers his questions on domestic drone use.

“I’m placing a hold on it, not because I have the intention of ultimately defeating him, but I’m going to slow it down enough to see if the administration would respond to my questions,” Paul said Tuesday on Fox News.

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Paul said he submitted about 15 questions nearly a month ago to the FBI about its domestic drone policies but hasn’t received a response.

“I want to know when the FBI uses a drone to fly over my property or someone’s house, are they getting a warrant first or are they just doing it willy-nilly because they can?” he asked. “The thing about a drone is it has amazing ability to look everywhere from 50,000 feet so you don’t know you’re being spied upon. And I think that that kind of spying goes against the right to privacy that all Americans have.”

Comey, who served in former President George W. Bush’s administration, seemed to have bipartisan support to replace Robert Mueller as FBI director, as he breezed through his confirmation hearing before a Senate panel earlier this month.

Paul argued that he’s not being an “obstructionist” for holding up Comey’s nomination because he’s “trying to get a real truth.”

“A hold is like a filibuster in the sense that I’m saying that if you want him to be released from my hold, which is kind of figurative, if you want to vote on him, you’re going to have to end my filibuster and have a 60 vote margin and then do it again,” Paul said. “Some people say, 'Oh, well that’s ridiculous. You’re just an obstructionist.' My response would be: 'I’m trying to get a real truth.' Is the FBI using the Bill of Rights? Are they seeking a warrant from a judge before they spy on us? That, to me, is an important truth, and the only way I can do it is by using my leverage as a senator.”

Paul likened the hold on Comey to his high-profile filibuster in March against the Obama administration’s drone policies. Paul and others said American citizens should not be targeted by drones, even if they are believed to be engaged in terrorist activities overseas.

“A hold really isn’t that you stop someone indefinitely; it’s that you threaten to slow down the process,” Paul explained. “A hold is like the beginning of a filibuster and should they bring it to the floor, and I choose to speak like I did on the drone subject earlier, then as long as I can speak, I can stop the debate.”