- Following President Donald Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky took a stand and said he was “absolutely” with the president.
- Paul blamed “Trump-derangement syndrome” for the outrage over Trump’s meeting with Putin.
- In his remarks at a joint press conference, Trump refused to back the US intelligence community’s assessment on Russia and railed against the FBI and his political opponents.
- Trump’s comments were widely condemned by lawmakers from both parties.
While President Donald Trump’s statements on Russia at a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin were widely condemned by a group of bipartisan lawmakers, at least one US senator took a stand and said he was “absolutely” with the president.
“I think engagement with our adversaries, conversations with our adversaries, is a good idea,” Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said during an interview with CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer. “Even in the height of the Cold War, I think it was a good thing that [President John F. Kennedy] had a direct line to [Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev].”
Paul then went beyond backing Trump’s comments and blamed partisan leanings for the ongoing outrage.
“I think there is a bit of Trump-derangement syndrome,” Paul said. “I think there are people who hate the president so much that this could’ve easily been President Obama early in his first administration setting the reset button and trying to have better relations with Russia.”
Paul added that Russia was a valuable intelligence asset and could be helpful in establishing diplomatic relations with other adversaries, such as North Korea.
“All those things are good,” Paul said. “But because people hate Trump so much, all of that’s being lost.”
Paul’s interview with Blitzer became testy at times, as the CNN anchor interjected with a few follow-up questions.
“If you’re going to interrupt me on every question, Wolf, we can’t really have an interview,” Paul said. “If you want to have an interview, you got to let me answer the question.”
“You’re usually better than this … at doing an interview.”
The response comes shortly after Trump and Putin conducted their first summit in Helsinki, Finland on Monday. During a joint press conference with Putin, Trump refused to back the US intelligence community’s assessment on Russia and railed against the FBI and his political opponents.
While referring to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Trump indicated he had no reason to believe Russia had meddled with the presidential election: “My people came to me – Dan Coats came to me, some others – they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
The meeting was held just three days after special counsel Robert Mueller indicted a dozen Russian intelligence officers who were suspected of interfering in the 2016 US presidential election.
Following Trump’s remarks at the press conference, several Republican lawmakers, including Sen. John McCain of Arizona, criticized what they believed was “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”