When President Trump was taking all kinds of flak after his meeting with Vladimir Putin last month, one of his most vocal defenders was Rand Paul, who praised the president for working to "prevent us from having World War III," per CBS News. On Monday, the Kentucky senator engaged in a little Russian diplomacy of his own, meeting with lawmakers in Moscow and inviting them to visit DC, reports CNN. "Russia shouldn’t be considered our friend, but we have certain shared interests—regarding Syria, terrorism, and energy," said Paul after meeting with lawmakers from Russia’s upper house of parliament, reports the Wall Street Journal.
"Those who believe in either country that we should not have diplomacy are greatly mistaken," Paul added. One Russian lawmaker seized on the visit to press Paul on a controversial issue—the detention of alleged Russian spy Maria Butina. “If you, Senator Paul, are able to raise your voice in defense of Maria Butina, to help at least change her pretrial detention ... you would show yourself to be a real man,” lawmaker Leonid Slutsky was quoted as saying. No word on how Paul responded to the request. (Read more Rand Paul stories.)