Trump Supporter Rand Paul Goes to Moscow, Invites Russian Officials to Washington

Clay Curtis
August 9, 2018

Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said Monday that he secured an agreement from Konstantin Kosachev, the 's Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, to send a delegation of Russian government officials to the U.S. Paul said the two "agreed on the importance of continued dialogue". "I invited the to send a delegation to the Capitol, and they have agreed to take this important next step", Mr. Paul said in a statement.

Konstantin Kosachyov, the chairman of the International Affairs Committee, said at the meeting with Paul that efforts to mend ties are hampered by sanctions the United States has imposed in response to Russia's interference in Ukraine, its alleged meddling in the US 2016 presidential election, and other actions.

It's unclear when those Russian lawmakers plan to visit the U.S. Capitol.

Spokesmen for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., did not immediately return a request for comment on the announcement.

The senator was one of Trump's most vocal supporters in Washington last month when the United States president came under fire for his handling of a summit with President Vladimir Putin. "We will continue our conversation with our American counterparts tomorrow on these and other most likely regional issues of the global agenda", Slutsky said, according to Russian state media.

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Paul headed a US delegation, which includes member of the Texas State Senate Don Huffines and representatives of the Cato Institute, a public policy research organization.

Paul, however, has stood by Trump, despite his remarks in Helsinki. Trump was heavily criticized by both Republicans and Democrats for being too deferential to Putin in his remarks and appearing to side with him over US intelligence agencies' assessment of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Trump later walked back the remark and said he trusted the US intelligence community's assessment Moscow did interfere.

One reporter asked if the senator had discussed election interference with the Russian officials.

"The hatred of the president is so intense that partisans would rather risk war than give diplomacy a chance", Paul said in a long defense of Trump on the Senate floor, days after the summit.

"We had general discussions about a lot of issues", Paul responded.

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