Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul quickly criticized President Joe Biden's inauguration speech on Wednesday, saying Biden was calling Republicans racist.
"If you read his speech and listen to it carefully, much of it is thinly-veiled innuendo calling us white supremacists, calling us racists, calling us every name in the book, calling us people who don't tell the truth," Paul said on Fox News Primetime.
Paul said he also thought Biden was calling his political opponents liars.
Paul's assessment was a sharp contrast to the widespread accolades for Biden's remarks that predominantly emphasized unity following Trump supporters' Capitol riot that was set off in part by Trump's election fraud lies and misinformation. Some Republicans, including Kentucky's other senator, have called Trump and his acolytes' comments lies.
Twitter users criticized Paul's comments, saying that it's not Biden's fault if Paul was offended when Biden condemned racism. Some also pointed out Paul's opposition to an anti-lynching bill last year. Paul said at the time he was worried the bill would "conflate lesser crimes with lynching," according to Politico.
Paul slammed Democrats Wednesday for trying to impeach former President Donald Trump for influencing rioters at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Paul said Democrats should "give up on" impeachment because it won't unify the country.
Ten Republicans in the House voted to impeach Trump for the second time, and Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell is one of the Senate Republicans who hasn't officially ruled out voting in favor of impeachment.
McConnell said on the Senate floor Tuesday that the mob was "provoked by the President and other powerful people. And they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government which they did not like." He said the mob that stormed the Capitol was "fed lies."
Paul was one of the GOP members who repeatedly pushed election fraud claims that had been disproven. During a Senate hearing in December he said "The election in many ways was stolen and the only way it will be fixed is by in the future reinforcing the laws." His office said Tuesday that he didn't believe discussing election fraud provoked the mob.
"Senator Paul voted to accept the state-certified electors consistent with the constitutional mandate that states conduct elections," a spokesperson from his office told the Herald-Leader. "Senator Paul clearly and unequivocally denounced the violence at the Capitol. Discussing election fraud is in no conceivable way an incitement to anything but legislative reform.
"Senator Paul will continue to advocate that no state official can change election law without a vote from the majority of the state legislature."
When asked Wednesday if he had spoken to McConnell, Paul said he hadn't spoken to him in a couple of weeks.
"But I've been saying publicly to the Senate leadership at-large that if they vote for impeachment, if they encourage impeachment, it'll be very very destructive to the party," Paul said.
Paul further criticized Biden and said he should stop the impeachment effort.
"If (Biden) thinks he's going to bring the country together by impeaching a former president, I don't know what he's smoking because really he's just going to divide the country further," Paul said.
Jen Psaki, Biden's press secretary, told reporters Wednesday that Biden will leave impeachment up to Congress.
[via Lexington Herald-Leader]