Claim: Sen. Rand Paul called for a judge to subpoena antifa's travel and financial records
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., found himself at the center of national racial injustice upheaval last month when a crowd of demonstrators surrounded him and his wife as they left the Republican National Convention. The next day, Paul spoke with Fox News about his discomfort with the incident — video of which went viral online.
In the days since, social media users have misinterpreted his words as a legal call to action against the far-left movement antifa.
“Rand Paul calls for subpoenaing antifa plane records, hotel records, all travel records, all funding,” Lesley Kushner Alt posted on Facebook on Aug. 31. Alt's post received 55,000 shares, 1,400 comments, and 2,200 likes, and it's claim quickly spread across social platforms.
BREAKING REPORT: Rand Paul has called to SUBPOENA ANTIFA plane records, hotel records, all travel records & all funding....
— Chuck Callesto (@ChuckCallesto) September 1, 2020
“BREAKING REPORT: Rand Paul has called to SUBPOENA ANTIFA plane records, hotel records, all travel records & all funding....” @ChuckCallesto tweeted Sept. 1. That tweet received 35,400 retweets, 7,600 quote tweets and 119,300 likes. Some endorsed Paul's alleged call to action while others questioned if subpoenaing an unstructured political movement was possible.
"Given that Antifa is not an organization, has no charter, no members (as such), no leadership, and no headquarters, I have a question: To whom is he issuing subpoenas?" @PittsburghTodd replied.
Related video: Rand Paul demands media print whistleblower’s name
Callesto told USA TODAY he saw the claim “bouncing around” social media platforms before he tweeted it and suggested Paul made the claim during an interview with "Fox & Friends."
Alt has not yet returned USA TODAY's request for comment.
A misunderstood interview statement
“You couldn’t reason with this mob. But I’m actually the author of the Breonna Taylor law to end no-knock raids,” he said. “So, the irony is lost on these idiots that they are trying to kill the person who’s actually trying to get rid of no-knock raids and they were shouting and screaming.”
Paul argued the individuals involved in the incident were not protesters, but paid actors sent to D.C. He did not mention antifa.
“They need to be arrested, questioned. (They need to) say, 'Where are you staying?' And the bill need to be subpoenaed by a judge to say ‘Who paid for your bill?’ ‘How did you get here on a plane?’ ‘And (you’re) staying in a fancy hotel, yet you are acting like a criminal?'” Paul said. “Something is going on here and it’s much bigger than people think.”
Paul's press secretary says he didn't call for any subpoenas
The protesters involved in the incident have not been arrested or charged. President Donald Trump condemned those protesters during an interview with Fox News and suggested the responding officers should receive a “medal of some kind.”
“(In the Fox News interview), he talks about subpoenaing records and researching financial records in context of those who have been accused of a crime, or there is evidence they’ve been committing a crime," Paul’s press secretary Matt Hawes told USA TODAY. "Of course, Senator Paul isn’t talking about personally subpoenaing anything here.”
Antifa is not a unified organization
Antifa is not an official organization with leadership, records or a headquarters. Antifa, which stands for anti-fascist, is a movement of left-leaning political actors with no unified structure. Some groups within antifa are unified and organized, but there is no national organization that connects all of antifa.
Anti-fascist have been active in the U.S. and Europe for many decades, opposing individuals like Mussolini and Hitler and other neo-Nazi groups. Anti-fascist movements in the U.S. date back to the late 1980s.
The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2020
Our ruling: False
After a crowd surrounded Sen. Rand Paul and his wife, he suggested on "Fox and Friends" that law enforcement investigate whether the individuals involved were paid actors. He did not call for a judge to subpoena antifa. The Fox News clip and Paul's office both confirm this is not what he said. We rate this claim FALSE.
Our fact-check sources:
USA TODAY, Aug. 28, "'What about Breonna?' Protesters surround Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky after RNC"
YouTube, Fox News, Aug. 28, "Rand Paul recounts being surrounded by protesters as he left the RNC"
YouTube, Fox News, Aug. 31, "President Trump goes one-on-one with Laura Ingraham | Part 1"
Courier Journal, Aug. 21, "Donald Trump: Police who escorted Rand Paul after RNC to receive 'medal of some kind'"
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact Check: Rand Paul did not call for judge to subpoena antifa