Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky raised eyebrows around the nation when it was announced that he would be flying to Moscow this week in order to meet with Russian lawmakers — but set tongues wagging when it was revealed that he had another job to do while he was in Russia.
In between his meetings with Russian senators and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Sen. Paul found time to pop down to the Kremlin and deliver a letter from President Trump to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s team.
I was honored to deliver a letter from President Trump to President Vladimir Putin’s administration. The letter emphasized the importance of further engagement in various areas including countering terrorism, enhancing legislative dialogue and resuming cultural exchanges.
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) August 8, 2018
Using a friendly messenger instead of going through usual State Department channels is odd enough on its own, but the story turned bizarre when the White House came out and contradicted Paul, announcing that the letter was requested by Paul to give to Putin in an apparent effort to distort the narrative and place the onus of public suspicion on Paul and not Trump.
Rand, this morning, made it seem as if he was delivering a letter to Putin that Trump wanted delivered. Now, the WH is saying that Paul asked for Trump to write the letter and basically determined what was in it.
— Sam Stein (@samstein) August 8, 2018
Rand Paul has emerged as one of Trump and Russia’s loudest defenders in Washington, praising the efforts to establish positive relations and dismissing the confirmed allegations of election hacking by Russians during the 2016 election.
President Trump has been on the hot seat recently for his unusually cozy relationship with Vladimir Putin. His shameless refusal to challenge the Russian president on the cyberwarfare campaign that his nation perpetrated during the 2016 election during the Helsinki summit, his constant efforts to invite Putin to the White House, and his refusal to take seriously the Russian attempts to hack Democratic candidates ahead of the 2018 midterm elections have all reinforced the widely held belief that he colluded with the Russians in order to swing the 2016 election in his favor — or that the Russians are blackmailing him with a scandalous tape.
This unexpected development is sure to throw fuel on that fire. Considering the long track record of blatant lies coming from official White House channels, we cannot accept the President’s explanation at face value.
The decision to disregard the usual diplomatic channels and insist upon a hand-delivered letter to Putin’s people is made all the more suspicious by their conflicting stories, and the American people deserve to know what really went on in Russia.