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Rand Paul undergoes lung surgery stemming from assault

Posted at 11:05 AM, Aug 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-06 11:05:12-04

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Rand Paul underwent lung surgery in a procedure he says stems from injuries suffered when a neighbor tackled him outside his Kentucky home in 2017.

The Republican lawmaker and former presidential candidate tweeted Monday that part of his lung damaged in the assault was removed during the weekend surgery in Tennessee. The senator is continuing his recovery at home, a Paul spokeswoman said.

"I will have to limit my August activities," the 56-year-old Paul said in the tweet, adding that he "should" be able to return to the Senate in September.

"Sen. Paul will need to recover from his surgery for a few weeks, which will limit his travel and events," his spokeswoman, Kelsey Cooper, said in a statement. "He will continue to work on diplomacy, legislative and constituent issues during that time."

Paul, an ally of President Donald Trump, was tapped for mediation efforts to potentially open a back channel for restarting nuclear talks between the U.S. and Iran.

Both of Kentucky's senators are laid up with health issues during Congress' August break.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suffered a shoulder fracture Sunday when tripping on his outdoor patio at his Louisville home. The 77-year-old Republican leader also is recovering and working from home.

Paul underwent the lung surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. In his tweet, he thanked the doctors, nurses and staff.

It's his latest surgery for injuries suffered from being tackled by Rene Boucher when the neighbor became angry over lawn maintenance at Paul's home in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The assault broke several of Paul's ribs. Earlier this year, Paul had hernia surgery at a hospital in Canada.

Boucher pleaded guilty to assaulting a member of Congress and received a 30-day prison sentence. Federal prosecutors have appealed, saying 21 months would have been appropriate.

Paul sued Boucher, and a jury in Bowling Green awarded him more than $580,000 in damages and medical expenses. Boucher has since sold his home next door to the senator.

Paul testified during the civil trial that he feared for his life as he struggled to breathe after Boucher, an anesthesiologist by trade, slammed into him in their upscale Bowling Green neighborhood. Paul testified that he got off his riding mower to pick up a stick and was straightening up when Boucher hit him from behind. Paul said he was wearing noise-canceling headphones and didn't hear Boucher coming toward him.

Paul said that for a moment, he had a flashback to the 2017 shooting at a baseball field when members of Congress were practicing for a game. Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana suffered serious injuries in that shooting.

During his testimony, Boucher acknowledged he wasn't thinking rationally and called it "two minutes of my life I wish I could take back."