In an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity this week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) compared the federal government’s decision to reclaim some of its own property to Nazi Germany’s confiscations of Jewish-owned art.
Paul’s comments concerned a recent court decision holding that the United States is permitted to repossess ten rare coins that were illegally taken from the U.S. Mint decades ago. In 1933, the mint produced hundreds of thousands of gold coins that were never circulated due to the United States’ decision to go off the gold standard. Ten of these coins were illegally removed from the mint, allegedly by a mint employee who passed them to a coin dealer. When the coins, which are estimated to be worth over $7 million each, later turned up in the hands of that coin dealer’s daughter, the federal government confiscated them. Last month, a federal judge agreed that the government acted properly, writing “[t]he disputed double eagles were not lawfully removed from the United States Mint and . . . remain the property of the United States.”
In the Hannity interview, Paul (R-KY) claimed the federal government acted just like Nazi Germany when it repossessed its own property:
HANNITY: Did you hear about the case today? It was a couple and they found these gold double eagle coins from 1939, I think, is the year. And they’re worth like $80 million. Now a court case it was in, because they had, I guess, confiscated them or asked people to turn them in . . . but [the government] had the ten coins or whatever it was. And they said “no, we’re taking them, and you don’t get a penny.”
PAUL: It’s sort of like the Nazis taking paintings from Jewish families during the war and saying you don’t get them back. Well they’re yours, they’re still yours even if you find it 60 years later.
For reasons that should be obvious, the federal government actions here are nothing like Nazi Germany. Nazis stole artwork that did not belong to them from Jewish families. The U.S. government, by contrast, reclaimed property that always belonged to it.