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.”
“That’s a good thing,” Paul said. “The downside is the chairman of each of the committees is banned from coming to the United States because of sanctions. 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.'”
Valentina Matviyenko, the chairwoman of the Federation Council — the upper House of the Russian legislature — and Vyacheslav Volodin, the chairman of the State Duma — the lower House — are prohibited from traveling to the US. They were among dozens of individuals sanctioned in March 2014 by the Obama White House for their role in Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, including the annexation of Crimea. Both lawmakers have close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and both were named on the “Putin List,” released by the Treasury Department in January 2018, that was meant to punish Russia for US election interference.
The White House did not immediately reply to a CNN request for about Paul’s desire to lift the travel sanctions.
Paul was among the most vocal Republican lawmakers to support the US President after Trump’s news conference in Helsinki, Finland, with Putin. Trump was widely criticized by members of his own party for appearing to side with Putin over the US intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the US presidential elections. Trump later said he misspoke, but Paul accused the President’s critics of “Trump derangement syndrome.”
“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.”