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Rand Paul invites Russian lawmakers to visit US

Rand Paul invites Russian lawmakers to visit US
© Greg Nash

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulMcConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Legislatures boost security after insurrection, FBI warnings Former Missouri senator says backing Hawley was 'worst mistake of my life' MORE (R-Ky.) said Monday that a delegation of Russian lawmakers will visit Washington, D.C., after he extended the invitation during a visit to Moscow.

Paul said in a statement that he met with Konstantin Kosachev, the chairman of the Russian Federation Council Committee on Foreign Relations.

“Engagement is vital to our national security and peace around the world," Paul said.

"Today, I met with Chairman Kosachev, and we agreed on the importance of continued dialogue. I invited the Russian Federation to send a delegation to the Capitol, and they have agreed to take this important next step,” he added.

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Paul noted that Russian lawmakers have not visited the U.S. Capitol in three years.

The invitation comes at a time of heightened tensions between Washington and Moscow, with lawmakers pushing legislation that would levy additional sanctions on Russia for election meddling.

Paul, who has emerged as a defender of President TrumpDonald TrumpLil Wayne gets 11th hour Trump pardon Trump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon Trump expected to pardon Bannon: reports MORE's rhetoric toward Russia, announced last month that he planned to visit Moscow in an effort to improve diplomatic relations between the two countries. 

The senator announced his planned trip just hours after the president concluded a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, during which Trump cast doubt on the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

Trump endured days of intense bipartisan criticism for his performance at a joint press conference, where he cited Putin's "powerful" denials of Russian interference.

He has since attempted to clarify those comments, but has continued to refer to the special counsel's investigation into Russian interference as a "witch hunt" and a "hoax."

Paul has in the past agreed with Trump's characterization of the investigation.