Rand Paul would team up with Hillary Clinton on criminal justice reform

Sen. Rand Paul

Story highlights

  • Sen. Rand Paul says he would team up with Hillary Clinton on reforming the criminal justice system
  • Paul says there is "no excuse" for what happened to Eric Garner
  • The Kentucky Republican says he's still weighing whether or not to run for president in 2016
Republican Sen. Rand Paul could face a brutal battle against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, in the 2016 battle for the presidency. But on Thursday, the Kentucky senator extended his potential rival an olive branch.
"We would welcome Hillary Clinton (to help reform the criminal justice system), if she would like to come and help us promote this agenda," Paul told Wolf Blitzer on CNN's "The Situation Room." "I've been working with Sen. Cory Booker and other Democrats. If she wants to join me, we would welcome her support."
Earlier this year, Paul joined forces with Attorney General Eric Holder, to re-examine the way law enforcement sentences people convicted of nonviolent drug offenses.
In light of the recent verdict not to indict a white police officer in the chokehold death of an unarmed black man, Eric Garner, Paul said he is "shocked" that no statement has been delivered from the Staten Island police about whether the bystanding officers involved in the incident will continue to serve.
"I really think to calm down the reaction to this, one thing that could happen is for the police could say, 'This is unacceptable for a policeman and we can't have this type of an individual on the police force,'" Paul said.
Asked about comments he made Wednesday where he blamed the politician who created New York's high cigarette tax for Garner's death, Paul said the black market created by heavy taxation and regulation -- whether it be food, drugs or cigarettes -- forces police officers to arrest people for mostly menial, non-offensive crimes. Garner was arrested for selling tax-free cigarettes.
"There's a black market because we have made the price of cigarettes so onerous that people are going to sell it illegally," Paul said. "I don't think it's justified what the police did but I also think it's bad policy that puts the police in an untenable position. ...So I think politicians are responsible for creating a situation and putting police in an untenable situation."
But "there's no excuse for what happened," he said.
Closing his interview, the likely presidential hopeful said he would probably decide 'in the springtime," about whether or not he will run in 2016, admitting that he is still going through family discussions and weighing his personal "momentum."