News Brief

Senator Rand Paul Visits Russia

U.S. Senator Rand Paul is currently on a three-day trip to Russia with an American delegation to meet with Russian lawmakers. While visiting the Duma, the Russian parliament, on the first day of his trip, Paul invited Russian senators to Washington. He is also expected to meet with the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.

Rand has emerged as a strident critic of investigations into President Donald J. Trump for collusion and has dismissed Russian interference in US elections as routine spycraft. According to a Politico op-ed he published last month, in which he voiced support for President Trump’s meeting with Putin in Helsinki, Paul’s trip agenda is to “discuss common ground with their leaders and help prevent further, unnecessary escalation of tensions.”

The timing of Rand’s visit to Moscow as an emissary for Trump’s views has raised hackles among Trump critics. “He has kind of appointed himself a one-man wrecking ball to defend the President against his critics in Congress,” said the Washington Post’s Karoun Demirjian on CNN’s Inside Politics broadcast on August 5.

Though Paul has been critical of Obama’s failure to halt Russian aggression in the past, on the 2016 election interference he stated that “we all do it” and that holding Putin accountable was a “waste of time.” American opinion, however, seems to be hardening against warming relations with Russia, with two-thirds of Americans opposing a friendlier Russia policy posture.