Rand Paul Seeks To Lift Travel Restrictions On Sanctioned Russian Lawmakers
After meeting with Russian lawmakers last month, Republican Senator Rand Paul (KY) invited his counterparts in Moscow to visit Washington for further talks, but Paul will have to overcome a steep obstacle to make it happen: two of Russia’s top lawmakers are banned by sanctions from travelling to the United States.
Paul said last month that he planned to ask President Donald Trump to life the sanctions in order to make the meeting happen.
> The Kentucky senator, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, invited the Russian lawmakers to the US capital during a trip to Moscow in early August. He told Fox News on Thursday that members of both houses of the Russian Federal Assembly have "agreed to come to Washington in the fall for further meetings." An aide told CNN that it would be the first time in three years that members of the upper chamber of the Russian assembly would attend official meetings in Washington.
> "The downside is the chairman of each of the committees is banned from coming to the United States because of sanctions," Paul said on Fox News. "So one of the things I'm going to ask the President -- I'm going to talk to the President this weekend -- is I'm going to say, 'why don't we take people off the list who are in the legislature?'"
Paul — who shares similar views with the president on Russia, health care, and revoking security clearances for certain current and former public servants — did not divulge after his subsequent golf outing with Trump whether the two discusses Russian sanctions.
> Two Russian lawmakers who Paul wants to travel to Washington for official meetings and are banned by the US are Leonid Slutsky and Konstantin Kosachev -- both of whom chair relevant committees, according to a source familiar.
> Paul's request of Trump is also a bit broader. He wants all US lawmakers who are banned from traveling to Russia be allowed to travel there -- in exchange for allowing all Russian lawmakers to travel to the United States. He plans to have discussions on this topic with Trump, along with officials at State and Treasury, an aide said.
Paul was one of few voices praising the president after Trump’s July meeting in Helsinki, Finland with Russian President Vladimir Putin during which Trump appeared to side with Putin’s denial of election meddling over U.S. intelligence agencies.
> "Any country that can spy does, and any country that can meddle in foreign elections does," Paul said on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer" last month. Paul continued, "All countries are doing this, but we've elevated this to a higher degree, and we've made this all about the sour grapes of Hillary Clinton losing the election, and it's all about partisan politics now. This is truly the Trump derangement syndrome that motivates all of this."