His journey from outspoken Trump critic during the primaries to obedient Trump toady in the Senate seems to be near completion.
And while I defended the man when a psychotic neighbor violently attacked him, causing serious physical injury, I have to say, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul will not have my support in this.
Paul’s latest, inexplicable show of fealty to his former primary adversary follows a trip to Moscow, where the senator met with several Russian officials, and returned parroting President Trump’s lines about the Russia probe “witch hunt.”
Now, he’s also looking to have those Russian officials relieved of the sanctions placed on them by Congress.
Paul didn’t specify who specifically he would ask be removed from U.S. sanctions lists.
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.
Senator Paul appeared on the Trump friendly outlet of Laura Ingraham’s Fox News program, The Ingraham Angle on Thursday night, ready to make the case for relaxed sanctions.
His goal is to get certain officials into the United States for meetings.
According to Paul, members of both bodies of Russia’s legislature are ready to visit Washington, but the sanctions are keeping that from happening.
“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.
Meanwhile, Senator Paul seems to be acting outside of the will of GOP leadership, in this case.
Both House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have expressed, through spokesmen, that there has been no invite, nor do they plan to extend an invite to their Russian counterparts, at this time, to visit Washington.
Earlier this month, Kosachev also expressed a desire to set up a meeting in Washington.
“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.
That being said, it’s not as if Senator Paul is completely on his own.
Sen. Ron Johnson (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.
Johnson was one of a group of GOP lawmakers that spent the July 4th weekend in a secretive meeting with Russian officials in Moscow.
He wasn’t the only one willing to consider having sanctioned Russian officials on U.S. soil.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) also feels it’s worth a shot.
“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.
There’s some merit to that notion. When there is conflict, you want to come to the table and attempt to resolve differences.
This conflict, however, is different.
Not only did Russia attempt to interfere in a U.S. election, but they actively sought (and still seek) to turn American against American, provoking outrage and chaos by using social media and a host of Russian “bots.” Every intelligence agency agrees this has happened, is still happening, and the Russian government refuses to own up.
It’s a new face of a new Cold War, and the idea that there are U.S. politicians willing to overlook their corrosive tactics a pass is disturbing.
We need somebody in Washington to hold up a piece of paper and wave it around, again. Maybe that’ll get their attention.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) August 17, 2018