Sen. Rand Paul defends Trump meeting with Putin, but had low expectations
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky U.S. Senator Rand Paul said President Trump was right to meet with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
Paul's comments came before President Trump's controversial news conference with Putin. But the Republican senator told reporters in Louisville that he did not believe the Trump-Putin summit was a bad idea from the start.
“People who say we shouldn't talk, I think are wrong. I think we should have conversations,” said Paul.
Paul said, during that conversation, he wanted Trump to press Putin on the issue of Russian interference in the 2016 election, but he did not expect much to come of it.
“I don't think that they will admit to it.” Paul said. “I mean, people who do things that are illegal, don't sort of look you in the face and say, 'Oh well, I'm sorry, I'm not going to do it again.'”
The summit came on the heels of Trump's combative meeting with NATO allies. Paul was one of only two senators voting 'no' on a resolution supporting NATO. He does not believe the alliance should continue expanding into countries surrounding Russia.
“In some ways, Putin is a result, and his popularity in Russia is a result, of NATO's expansion. So, I don't think we should continue to expand NATO,” said Paul.
Paul was in Louisville primarily to talk economics with invited business leaders. He said he is concerned about an expanding trade war, touched off by Trump's tariffs on some imports.
He predicts growing support for a veto-proof bill that would limit the President's power to impose tariffs.
“I don't think we're at that point yet. But the debate is developing, and as the trade war gets worse, and as farmers and others are hurt, I think you may see more and more people calling for new legislation,” Paul said.
Paul said he will soon meet with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. He is not yet committed to supporting the President's pick because of concerns about Kavanaugh's rulings on privacy.
“There's a lot of things we are going to discuss, but I have an open mind,” said Paul. “I'm undecided at this point, but have an open mind.”
Paul said “no” when asked if he plans to return any campaign contributions from ousted Papa John’s chairman John Schnatter. But he condemned the Schnatter’s use of the n-word.
“The language that was said to be used is unacceptable, and should not be used period,” Paul said.
Paul’s spokesman, Kelsey Cooper, later issued the following statement on the Schnatter donations:
“Perhaps we should ask the same question of all the media covering this story: are any of the TV stations or newspapers going to give back the advertising money they have taken from Papa John's over the years?”
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