Rene Boucher, the man accused of tackling Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and breaking his ribs as he was mowing his lawn, appeared in court Nov. 9 and pleaded not guilty to a fourth-degree assault charge. (Reuters)

This post has been updated with the latest news. 

A United States senator was brutally attacked at his home more than a month ago, allegedly by his neighbor, and we still have no idea why. The neighbor pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor assault a few days later, but both sides have only hinted at motives.

It's hard to overstate just how weird this story is, and how weirder it keeps getting.

To that point: The Washington Post's Justin Jouvenal recently stalked the gated community where Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) lives to try to get a handle on what happened — or better yet, why no one's talking about what happened.

He got the first public, direct comment from one of the principals in this case about what happened. The lawyer for Paul's neighbor, Rene Boucher, said that Boucher attacked Paul "over long-simmering disagreements between the two about the care of grass, trees and other landscaping on their adjacent properties in an exclusive gated community."


An entrance to the Rivergreen gated community in Bowling Green, Ky. (Luke Sharrett /For The Washington Post) BOWLINGGREEN

So that settles it. Paul got attacked by his neighbor about landscaping.

Not so fast. Paul's side has gone out of their way to suggest the attack was political, though they haven't elaborated.

Here's what little we know — and all the things we still don't know about why and how Paul got attacked, and what could come of it.

What's not in dispute

1. His injuries were serious: We already knew Paul broke at least six ribs. Paul's wife, Kelley, wrote in a Nov. 22 op-ed in CNN that three of those ribs were displaced, that he has fluid buildup between a lung and the chest, and he was recently diagnosed with pneumonia as a complication of his damaged lung. “Since November 3, my husband, Rand Paul, has not taken a single one [breath] without pain,” she wrote.

2. His neighbor was involved: Rene Boucher is a 59-year-old retired anesthesiologist who has lived next to Paul in a manicured, gated community in Bowling Green, Ky., for 17 years.

A week after the attack, he pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge. His lawyer said there was “a very regrettable dispute between two neighbors over a matter that most people would regard as trivial.”

His lawyer, Matthew J. Baker, elaborated to The Post that the "trivial" dispute was about trees, grass and other landscaping. "It all stems from maintenance, or lack of it, at these two neighboring properties."

3. Paul and his neighbor weren't on good terms: Paul and his neighbor haven't talked in 10 years, “other than a casual wave from the car,” according to Paul's wife.

Boucher's attorney also told The Post that the neighbors didn't speak:

Baker, Boucher’s attorney, said Paul and his client had stopped speaking for a number of years because of these landscaping issues. He described the silence as a cold war of sorts.


Rene Boucher, center, appears in court for an arraignment hearing with his attorney Matt Baker, left, on Nov. 9. (Austin Anthony/Daily News via AP)

What we still don't know

1. The real motive behind the attack: Paul's neighbor is a registered Democrat, but his lawyer was quick to characterize the attack as “unequivocally not about politics.”

Paul's camp has insinuated — but hasn't outright said — this was about politics. Paul has tweeted links suggesting his neighbor's liberal bent had something to do with it. “May Robert Mueller fry Trump's gonads,” an account with the name of Paul's neighbor tweeted in May, based on a story Paul directed his Twitter followers to read.

Paul's camp has also denied the attack was preceded by any kind of fight, about landscaping or otherwise: “This was not a ‘fight,’ it was a blindside, violent attack by a disturbed person,” Paul's staffer, Doug Stafford, told reporters. “Anyone claiming otherwise is simply uninformed or seeking media attention.”

2. Why neither side has fully explained the events: Reporters from across the country have repeatedly tried to get a fuller account of the situation directly from the senator, his staff and local law enforcement, to no avail.

Nearly three weeks after, Paul's camp finally spoke out about how they saw the attack unfold, but they didn't share why they think Paul got attacked. In a CNN op-ed and in a Fox News interview, Paul and his wife said it came out of nowhere from a man they hadn't talked to in a decade.

Paul suggested why it happened didn't matter.

"I think the, I guess to me the bottom line is it isn’t so important — if someone mugs you is it really justified for any reason?," Paul said on Fox News.

3. Why Paul's wife is offering up new information now: Paul's wife seems driven to lift the curtain on what happened because she feels Paul has been maligned by “news outlets” she says have delighted “in hateful headlines like 'Not A Perfect Neighbor,' and concocting theories about an 'ongoing dispute,' based on nothing more than speculation from an attention-seeking person with no knowledge of anything to do with us.

4. Whether Paul will press more charges: Paul's neighbor's attorney told reporters that Paul has retained a personal injury lawyer. One of Paul's advisers has said this case is also being handled by federal authorities, but there's no indication yet that Boucher will face federal charges.

And if authorities believe is a politically motivated attack and he is found guilty, Boucher could also face much more prison time: up to eight years as opposed to up to one year for a misdemeanor assault charge, as Brandon Gee and Ed O'Keefe report.