Sen. Rand Paul has made it very clear that he supports President Donald Trumps attempts to improve the U.S.-Russia relationship, so much so that the Kentucky Republican met with Russian lawmakers in Moscow on Monday.

“Engagement is vital to our national security and peace around the world,” Paul said in a statement on Twitter. After Paul visited the American embassy in Moscow, Russian lawmakers reportedly agreed to return the favor and visit the U.S. Capitol.

The GOP Senator reportedly spoke to Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Russia Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs. This group is Russia’s equivalent of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a committee Paul works for.

It has been nearly three years since a Russian government official traveled to Washington, thus a potential visit would be a major development. This all comes after Trump invited Vladimir Putin to come to the White House this fall, although this meeting has now reportedly been postponed until next year.

Trump drew severe criticism from both major political parties and from U.S. intelligence figures last month for showing more trust in Putin than in his own country’s intelligence agencies on the subject of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Trump’s comments, which were called “treasonous” by many, came during a press conference after a summit between him and Putin in Helsinki, Finland on July 16.

Paul was one of the few lawmakers to defend Trump for expressing a desire to improve relations with Russia in oder to tackle international crises in Syria and in other troubled countries. The Kentucky senator has also trivialized Russian meddling in the election, claiming this is something dozens of countries around the world — including the U.S. — have done to other nations.

“We all do it. What we need to do is make sure our electoral process is protected,” Paul said on CNN’s State of the Union last month. “They’re not going to admit it in the same way we’re not going to admit we were involved in the Ukrainian elections or the Russian elections.”

Paul also blamed former President Barack Obamas administration for not doing enough to stop previous Russian attempts at election interference.

“I wish President Obama had been more aggressive in pursuing it,” Paul added.

Trump has repeatedly claimed Obama was too soft on Russia, and even Vice President Mike Pence also recently said Trump’s predecessor should have done more to fix this issue.


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