Rand Paul to travel to Russia after downplaying election meddling
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Monday announced he will be heading to Russia in the coming weeks, arguing that the U.S. must pursue a constructive dialogue with Moscow.
Paul published a Politico Magazine op-ed titled “Trump Is Right to Meet Putin” in support of Trump’s historic summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday.
“In just a few weeks, I will take my own trip to Russia in an attempt to discuss common ground with their leaders and help prevent further, unnecessary escalation of tensions,” Paul wrote.
“I look forward to consulting with Trump between his visit and mine and to working with diplomats from both countries to have a successful trip and better relationships,” Paul continued. “Millions of lives could be at stake.”
Trump and Putin spent over two hours on Monday in a one-on-one meeting.
In response to Trump’s assertion at a press conference after the meeting that he would rather “take a political risk in pursuit of peace, than to risk peace in pursuit of politics,” Paul tweeted, “Glad to hear it.”
Glad to hear it. https://t.co/6IcAij85y4
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) July 16, 2018
Putin at the press conference insisted that Russia never interfered in 2016, despite Mueller’s indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officials for hacking U.S. election systems in favor of Republicans during the recent presidential election.
Paul has continually insisted the various investigations into Trump’s possible ties with Russia is a “witch hunt” and “hoax,” echoing Trump’s opinions on the investigation.
Paul on Sunday said he believes it is a “waste of time” to try to hold Putin accountable for Russian interference in U.S. elections. He said the U.S. has influenced elections all over the world, but insisted he does not think the two countries are “morally equivalent.”
“Russia doesn’t need to be considered our friend,” Paul wrote in Monday’s Politico op-ed. “But we certainly have overlapping interests — Syria, Islamic terrorism and energy — that require us to have an open dialogue and relationship.”
“I am thankful that Trump is once again willing to go against the political elite in Washington and keep the lines of communication to Moscow open,” Paul wrote.
Putin said at the press conference on Monday that establishing peace in Syria would be a good starting point for improving diplomatic relations between Russia and the U.S.
“Our relationship has never been worse than it is now,” Trump said at the press conference. “However, that changed as of about four hours ago. I really believe that.”
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