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 PaulTrump-backed Hagerty wins Tennessee GOP Senate primary Senators introduce bill to block Trump armed drone sale measure The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's visit to battleground Ohio overshadowed by coronavirus MORE (R-Ky.) says he will ask President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoe Arpaio loses bid for his old position as sheriff Trump brushes off view that Russia denigrating Biden: 'Nobody's been tougher on Russia than I have' Trump tees up executive orders on economy but won't sign yet 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 McConnellCoronavirus talks collapse as negotiators fail to reach deal Pelosi, Schumer say White House declined T coronavirus deal COVID-19 bill limiting liability would strike the wrong balance MORE (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanWary GOP eyes Meadows shift from brick-thrower to dealmaker Budowsky: Why I back Kennedy, praise Markey Democratic super PAC quotes Reagan in anti-Trump ad set to air on Fox News: 'Are you better off?' 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 CorkerTennessee primary battle turns nasty for Republicans Cheney clashes with Trump Sessions-Tuberville Senate runoff heats up in Alabama 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 JohnsonDemocrats try to force Trump to boost medical supplies production GOP chairmen hit back at accusation they are spreading disinformation with Biden probe Unemployment debate sparks GOP divisions 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 CornynCOVID-19 bill limiting liability would strike the wrong balance From a Republican donor to Senate GOP: Remove marriage penalty or risk alienating voters Skepticism grows over Friday deadline for coronavirus deal 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.