Billionaire reality TV producer Donald Trump launched into criticism of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Monday, saying that the senator's 13-hour stand last week against the confirmation of John Brennan as CIA director had proven pointless.
“I happen to feel that the filibuster did nothing. They got nothing out of it. There was nothing gained by it,” Trump told the hosts of “Fox and Friends.”
Paul's protest came in part over his concerns about U.S. drone policy and its limitations. The day after Paul concluded his filibuster, Attorney General Eric Holder released a memo clarifying that President Barack Obama doesn't have the authority to order targeted drone killings of American citizens on U.S. soil unless they are considered to be engaged in combat.
After bringing an end to the filibuster, Paul allowed a Senate vote on Brennan's confirmation. Brennan was confirmed easily and sworn in at the end of the week.
Trump suggested that the Senate's eventual approval of Brennan negated any broader purpose of Paul's procedural maneuver.
“It was just a protest, and we need more than protests, we need action,” he said. “It didn’t stop the Brennan disaster, which is what it should have really, the purpose should have been for that.”
While observers from both sides of the aisle have praised Paul for fostering a larger discussion about grey areas that have emerged in drone policy, Trump joins other Republicans in criticizing the Kentucky senator for allegedly partaking in theatrics. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) accused Paul last week of presenting a "ridiculous" and "simply false" argument in order to take a stand against a non-existent threat.
Real threat or not, Paul and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) introduced a measure last week to put Holder's explanation of drone restrictions into law. The bill declares that any killing of a U.S. citizen on American soil by "an unmanned aircraft" is illegal, unless said individual poses an "imminent threat." As some have pointed out, the language of that legislation would hypothetically still leave plenty of wiggle room for the U.S. government to justify ordering domestic drone killings of its own citizens.