Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., blocked a resolution offered by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., on Thursday that backs the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election and demanded that President Donald Trump speak with special counsel Robert Mueller.
Sanders sought a unanimous consent vote for the resolution stating in a Senate floor speech, “The Congress must make it clear that we accept the assessment of our intelligence community with regard to Russian election interfering in our country and in other democracies.”
Paul rose to oppose the move, which would not have required the senators to go on record, saying, “Trump derangement syndrome has officially come to the Senate.”
“The hatred for the president is so intense that partisans would rather risk war than give diplomacy a chance,” he added. “Does anybody remember that Ronald Reagan sat down with Gorbachev and we lessened the nuclear tensions? We need to still have those openings.”
Sen. @RandPaul: "Trump derangement syndrome has officially come to the Senate. The hatred for the President is so intense that partisans would rather risk war than give diplomacy a chance."
— CSPAN (@cspan) July 19, 2018
“Nobody is saying or excusing Russia meddling in our elections, absolutely, we should protect the integrity of our elections,” Paul explained. “But simply bringing the hatred of the president to the Senate floor, in order to say we’re done with diplomacy, we’re going to add more sanctions and more sanctions.”
According to Senate rules, only one senator is needed to rise in opposition to block a unanimous consent vote, The Hill reported.
Paul has been one of Trump’s most vocal supporters in the aftermath of the controversy created by his Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday.
The Kentucky senator told a combative Wolf Blitzer on CNN after the summit, “This is truly the Trump derangement syndrome that motivates all of this!” in response to the torrent of criticism Trump received for seeming at a joint news conference to be just as ready to accept Putin’s denial of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election as the intelligence community’s assessment that it did.
“All of this is a sideways way to try to delegitimize Trump and say he really didn’t win the election when the election was really about Hillary Clinton being unfit for office,” he said.
The following day, Paul also did not agree with “CBS This Morning” host John Dickerson’s argument that Trump should have made the moral case against Russia during the news conference. Dickerson cited former President Ronald Reagan calling the Soviet Union the “evil empire” in the 1980s.
“Reagan didn’t call it an evil empire in a press conference with (Mikhail) Gorbachev,” Paul countered.
The senator went on to argue that Trump’s reluctance to criticize Russia’s alleged interference has to do with the Mueller investigation.
“The president has undergone an onslaught of a year, year-and-a-half of a partisan investigation accusing him of somehow colluding with the Russians,” Paul stated. “So, I think he’s sensitive to that.”