Amid widespread criticism over President Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Sen. Rand Paul has rushed to the president’s defense, saying that his detractors are “deranged.”
Paul and Trump have had a love-hate relationship since the two publicly sparred during the race to secure the Republican nomination for president in 2015 and 2016.
But on the PBS News Hour Monday evening, Paul said that Trump’s detractors are unfairly criticizing the president for deriding intelligence findings that Russia meddled in U.S. elections.
“If there weren’t such acute hatred for Trump, such a Trump derangement syndrome on the left, I think if this were President Obama and it could have actually been President Obama early in the first term when they were trying to reset our relations with Russia, they could have easily had a meeting like this and the left and the media would have had a love-fest for President Obama,” Paul said.
“I think this really shows people’s hatred for President Trump more than anything.”
During a news conference with Putin on Monday, Trump called the probe into Russian meddling a “disaster for our country”— contradicting U.S. intelligence findings.
But Paul disagrees, saying that Trump has “undergone an onslaught of a year or year and a half of a partisan investigation accusing him of somehow colluding with the Russians” during an interview with CBS on Tuesday morning.
Paul has repeatedly voiced concern about the special investigation into Russian meddling and whether it has too much power to scrutinize the president.
Paul hasn’t always advocated for Trump’s ability to negotiate with Russia. During a debate between Republicans seeking the nomination for president in 2015, Paul questioned whether Trump had the appropriate character to negotiate with foreign leaders.
“Do we want someone with that kind of character, that kind of careless language to be negotiating with Putin, do we want somebody like that to be negotiating with Iran?” Paul said.
“I think really there’s a sophomoric quality that is entertaining about Mr. Trump. But I am worried, I’m very concerned about having him in charge of the nuclear weapons.”
Paul has also opposed Trump’s picks for top intelligence officials — National Security Adviser John Bolton and CIA Director Gina Haspel.
Paul has announced he will visit Russia in the coming weeks “to discuss trade, cultural exchanges and how to better work for peace and prosperity in the world.”