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As Republicans scramble to find their footing following President Donald Trump's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) continued to defend the president on Tuesday by blasting “ridiculous” calls for Trump's national security team to testify in wake of the explosive summit.
“Having a hearing on a press conference, I think is sort of a ridiculous notion,” Paul told IJR when asked about his Senate colleagues, along with some Republicans, calling for members Trump's national security team to testify “immediately.”
“I think people have become unhinged. I think that the hatred for the president, on really somewhat on both sides of the aisle, has caused people to overreact to this whole thing,” Paul added.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer demanded Trump's team — who were present at the Helsinki summit — sit for questioning, urging Republicans to join Democrats in “demanding testimony”: “And very importantly, probably most importantly, our Republican colleagues need to join us in demanding testimony from the President's national security team that was in Helsinki — and we need to do that immediately,” he said.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) also acknowledged that there are many questions stemming from the Putin meeting and that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is likely to be called to testify regarding what possible deals were made with the Russian leader.
Sen. Graham tells Post that Sec. Pompeo is likely going to be called to testify ASAP since senators are wondering what actually happened in Helsinki and whether deals were struck with Putin
— Robert Costa (@costareports) July 17, 2018
However, the Kentucky senator has emerged as one of the president's loudest advocates in the Senate following the intense aftermath of this week's Putin meeting. Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), all issued statements critical of the president's actions.
But Paul has maintained that the outrage is less about substance and more about “Trump derangement syndrome.”
The president has also taken notice of Paul's support, thanking the Republican senator on Twitter Tuesday.
Thank you @RandPaul. “The President has gone through a year and a half of totally partisan investigations - what’s he supposed to think?”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 17, 2018
Paul also told IJR that he finds it “interesting” that many of his colleagues who have regularly pushed for “virtually unlimited executive power” are now calling for more Congressional oversight of the presidency.
“Almost all of these people that are going crazy on this are typically people who believe in virtually unlimited executive power. So now they want some oversight? I'm always in favor of more oversight of foreign policy but there are ways to do it,” he added.
When asked why he's seemingly now pushing back against Congressional oversight in this instance related to Russia, Paul again downplayed calls for hearings or further action, insisting instead that “meetings and conversations with the White House to see what can be furthered” from the Putin summit is a better path forward.
“I plan on meeting with the president in the next two weeks and discussing the summit and discussing things that we can move forward on that will lead to less tension between our countries,” he added.