LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul said President Trump is acting too much like a king, and it is time for Congress to do its job of checking presidential power.

Paul, a Republican who generally supports the president, pointed to Trump’s declaring a national emergency to fund a border wall.

“You may remember me sometimes saying President Obama was abusing the separation of powers and acting too much like a king. Well, now there's a Republican doing some of the similar things,” Paul told WDRB News during an interview Friday in Louisville.

“I'm for spending for some border security. I think we do have to have secure borders, but I think Congress has to appropriate the money. I don't think the president should be allowed to.”

Paul said the separation of powers also applies to tariffs.

“I'm not a big fan of tariffs," he said. "I think they're hurting Kentucky. But I really am not a big fan of one person being able to decide there are tariffs.”

Paul has co-sponsored a bill with Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon to limit the president's emergency powers.

Paul said he is “absolutely” concerned that a president’s power should be checked regardless of which party controls the White House.

“The reason you have checks and balances is so the country doesn’t lurch too much in one direction,” he said.

Trump has also come under fire for indicating during an interview Thursday that he might be open to taking information on an opponent from a foreign source.

In response, Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth of Louisville tweeted, “Behold the latest article of impeachment.”

Paul said he is sometimes not sure whether Trump is joking but does not believe the comment is an impeachable offense.

“Having foreign countries involved probably isn't going to help our politics to be less messy,” Paul said. “But whether that's an impeachable crime, it doesn't to me sound like it's a crime.”

In Kentucky politics, Paul voiced support for Lt. Governor Jenean Hampton who, like him, started in politics as a TEA Party activist in Bowling Green.

Gov. Matt Bevin dropped Hampton from the ticket for his re-election run, and his administration has fired most of her staff.

“I haven't talked to either one of them about what the rift is or if there is a rift or what's going on with it,” Paul said. “But I do think she deserves respect, ought to be treated with respect. We still think she has a bright future, and I'm a big fan.”

Paul was in Louisville to talk to a meeting of the Kentucky Bar Association about criminal justice reform. He was a big supporter of the First Step Act, which reduced mandatory life sentences for some non-violent drug offenses to 25 years and funded programs to help ex-felons return to society.

He believes the federal and state governments should do even more.

“In Kentucky, believe it or not, you can kill somebody and be eligible for parole in 12 years," he said. "But you can sell drugs, and be in jail for life. I think we have to reassess."

But Paul said he does not want to be misunderstood as supporting drug use.

“I think drugs are a bad thing," he said. "I don’t want our kids on drugs. I don’t want our adults on drugs. But the thing is I also don’t want to put people in jail for it either.”

Justice reform is an issue he pushed during his 2016 presidential campaign, and Paul is not exactly ruling out a second run in 2024.

“It’s just hard to imagine in the future, but I did it once, and it was an exciting time,” he said. “Unless something would dramatically change, I don't see it happening again. But we'll see.”

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Reporter

I cover a range of stories for WDRB, but really enjoy tracking what's going on at our State Capitol. I grew up on military bases all over the world, but am a Kentuckian at heart. I'm an EKU alum, and have lived in Louisville for 30 years.