He has good reason to say this. Lawyer Ken White pointed out on Twitter earlier that assaulting a U.S. senator typically would be treated as a state offense, not a federal offense — unless you assaulted him “on account of the performance of official duties.” You do that and make bodily contact with him in the course of the assault and you’re facing up to eight years in a federal pen. Inflict “bodily injury” on him and you’re looking at up to 20 years. Rene Boucher’s not going to get 20 years from a federal judge for tackling someone. But he’s likely to get something.

He and his attorney will therefore spend the duration of this case insisting that no way, no how did this have anything to do with politics.

A “trivial” matter? What could that mean? NBC is reporting that there was a property-line dispute involved — aren’t there always with neighbors — but that politics may have also played a part:

Paul was wearing headphones while mowing his lawn in Bowling Green, Kentucky, when he was attacked from behind by Rene Boucher, 59, on Sunday afternoon, two sources said. Paul suffered five rib fractures, including three displaced fractures…

The two men had not spoken in several years and a rift between the pair possibly stemmed from Boucher’s distaste for Paul’s politics, as well as those of his father, former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, a source said.

Paul and Boucher also had a previous disagreement about a property line involving a creek behind the lawmaker’s house where Paul’s sons would sometimes play, the source added.

They hadn’t spoken in years and the property-line disagreement was longstanding (or am I misreading what’s implied by the word “previous”?), yet Boucher came up from behind out of nowhere and tackled Paul? There’s more to this, obviously. Either Boucher attacked him over politics or we don’t have the whole story yet. If there was some recent quarrel between them that gave Paul reason to fear Boucher, presumably he wouldn’t have had his headphones in while he was mowing, tuned out to his surroundings. And yet there he was, a sitting duck. What a weird, weird incident.

Expect the state charges against Boucher to be increased, meanwhile. Right now he’s facing fourth-degree assault, which is a simple matter of intentionally or wantonly causing physical injury to another person. That’s a misdemeanor. Second-degree assault involves intentionally causing “serious” physical injury to another. That’s a felony. Paul has no fewer than five broken ribs, three of them displaced, as well as lung contusions and potentially will be absent from the Senate for months while he’s recuperating according to his staff. He’s also reportedly in a lot of pain. Seems “serious” for criminal law purposes. It would be a very bitter irony if this A-hole attacked Paul for political reasons and succeeded in blocking the Republican agenda by denying Paul the ability to cast his vote on crucial matters like tax reform. Get well soon, Rand.

Update: Um, what?

Rand Paul ended up with five broken ribs over “flora”?

Update: C’mon, it can’t be as simple as this.

A Twitter pal snarks, “I’m gonna laugh so hard if it turns out they were growing weed together.”