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Rand Paul to ask Trump to lift sanctions on Russian leaders

Rand Paul to ask Trump to lift sanctions on Russian leaders
© Anna Moneymaker

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulNoisy democracy, or rude people behaving like children? Lawmakers, Wall Street shrug off Trump's escalating Fed attacks Five things to watch for in deteriorating US-Saudi relations MORE (R-Ky.) says he will ask President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: 'I don't trust everybody in the White House' JPMorgan CEO withdraws from Saudi conference Trump defends family separations at border MORE this weekend to lift sanctions against top Russian officials so they can visit the United States later this year.

Paul said members of both bodies of Russia's legislature had agreed to come to the United States to continue talks after the GOP senator visited Moscow earlier this month. 

"They have both agreed to come to Washington in the fall for further meetings. That's a good thing. The downside is the chairman of each of the committees is banned from coming to the United States because of sanctions," Paul told Fox News's Laura Ingraham. 

He added that to overcome the blockade he will ask the president, when they talk this weekend, to "take people off the list who are in the legislature." 

Paul didn't specify who specifically he would ask be removed from U.S. sanctions lists. 

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But Paul met with Konstantin Kosachev, the chairman of the Russian Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs, during his trip to Moscow. Kosachev was targeted during a new wave of sanctions announced earlier this year. 

Paul's trip to Moscow raised eyebrows in Washington, where many of his colleagues have been skeptical of Trump's warmer stance toward Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

Spokesmen for both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP Senate candidate: Kavanaugh 'debacle' 'hugely motivating' to Missouri voters Trump praises McConnell: He ‘stared down the angry left-wing mob’ to get Kavanaugh confirmed Murkowski not worried about a Palin challenge MORE (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcCarthy introduces bill to fully fund Trump's border wall On The Money: McCarthy offers bill to fully fund Trump border wall | US to press China on currency in trade talks | Mnuchin plans to go ahead with Saudi trip | How America's urban-rural divide is changing the Dems Election Countdown: Minnesota Dems worry Ellison allegations could cost them key race | Dems struggle to mobilize Latino voters | Takeaways from Tennessee Senate debate | Poll puts Cruz up 9 in Texas MORE (R-Wis.) told The Hill last week that they had not invited, and we're not discussing inviting, their Russian counterparts to visit the Capitol. 

Kosachev indicated earlier this month that Moscow would be interested in organizing a meeting between members of the Russian legislature and their U.S. counterparts.

"The issue at hand is trying, perhaps, to organize a new meeting, this time at the level of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the Federation Council’s Foreign Affairs Committee during the autumn session, that is, before the end of this year," he told Russian state media at the time. 

But a spokeswoman for Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump defends 0B US arms sale to Saudi Arabia Cornyn: 'All the money in the world' won't help O'Rourke win Texas Saudi Arabia, Turkey to form joint investigation into Khashoggi disappearance MORE (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said an invitation had not been extended on behalf of the committee. 

Paul has emerged as one of Trump's most vocal defenders on Russia, even as many of his colleagues are increasingly concerned that Moscow will try to meddle in the upcoming midterm election. 

But not every GOP senator is closing the door to meeting or talking with Russian officials. 

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGOP senator seeking information on FBI dealings with Bruce Ohr, former DOJ lawyer Election Countdown: O'Rourke brings in massive M haul | Deal on judges lets senators return to the trail | Hurricane puts Florida candidates in the spotlight | Adelson spending big to save GOP in midterms Senate Homeland chair vents Mueller probe is preventing panel from receiving oversight answers MORE (R-Wis.), who traveled to Moscow last month, said there was an interest in developing a "task force." 

“Identify half-a-dozen legislators on both sides that meet on a regular basis, develop a relationship, so you can really have an agenda,” he told The Washington Examiner.

Asked about Paul's offer, Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynTrump defends 0B US arms sale to Saudi Arabia Florida politics play into disaster relief debate O’Rourke faces pivotal point in Texas battle with Cruz MORE (R-Texas) said he was also open to having their Russian counterparts visit the Capitol.

"That's been fairly traditional ... but I guess it had been more or less suspended for the last couple of years. ... I think it's fine for adversaries to talk. I think that's better than not talking," he said.