Paul: Trump has ‘healthy dose of skepticism’ for U.S. intelligence on Russian interference

Paul: Trump has ‘healthy dose of skepticism’ for U.S. intelligence on Russian interference

Paul: Trump has ‘healthy dose of skepticism’ for U.S. intelligence on Russian interference

By Bryan Wright 0 Comment September 9, 2019


JUDY WOODRUFF: So, let’s hear from U.S. lawmakers
now on both sides of the aisle. I spoke a short while ago to Republican Senator
Rand Paul from Kentucky, who’s a member of both the Senate Foreign Relations and Homeland
Security Committees. We started with the crescendo of reaction
to today’s meeting and how he sees it. SEN. RAND PAUL (R), Kentucky: You know, I
think it’s a good idea for us to have conversation even with our adversaries. You know, at the height of the Cold War and
the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy had a direct line to Khrushchev. We have always had ambassador
even throughout the Cold War. Even during the years of Stalin, we had an ambassador
to Russia. So, I think it’s a good idea to keep lines
of communications open. We have nuclear weapons on both sides. We have conflict in Syria where
we’re in close proximity. It would be nice to have help from Russia
on North Korea as far as denuclearization. We have the Ukraine situation. So, no, I think
that we won’t have any progress if we don’t have any conversations. JUDY WOODRUFF: I think a number of your Republican
colleagues are saying they agree with that, but they are arguing the president went farther
than that today. Senator John McCain called it the most disgraceful
performance he’d ever seen by an American president. SEN. RAND PAUL: Well, John McCain’s been wrong
on just about everything for the last 40 years. And I will give you an example. He’s such
a loose canon and so emotional about issues that, when I opposed the expansion of NATO,
which many have opposed, George Kennan among them, the most famous diplomat of the last
century, opposed to the expansion of NATO as well, when I was exposed — opposed to
the expansion of NATO, McCain said I was working for Putin. And so that kind of comment really doesn’t
even deserve to be countenanced. And, really, I think polite company or informed company
shouldn’t even countenance someone McCain, who basically calls someone who has an intellectual
opposition to expanding NATO, calls them a traitor. So I don’t think much of McCain’s opinions
on really any foreign policy. JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, what about House
Speaker Paul Ryan, who was not as critical, but he said Mr. Trump must — quote — “appreciate
that Russia is not our ally”? In other words, the impression that he’s saying
that came across is the president was simply too friendly with and too trusting of Vladimir
Putin. SEN. RAND PAUL: Well, I think the president
is different than many leaders we have had, who basically will litigate things to death
and not meet with people. I think Trump is different, and he’s willing
to meet with foreign leaders and, actually, I think you may get a breakthrough because
of the meetings. And I think, if this were anybody else, if there weren’t such acute
hatred for Trump, such 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, that could have easily had a meeting like
this — and the left and the media would have had a lovefest over President Obama. So, I think this really shows people — hatred
for President Trump more than anything. JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you think President Trump,
Senator, was right to essentially accept the Russian version of events? Vladimir Putin’s
said, no, we didn’t interfere in your election. And yet the entire intelligence community
in this country has concluded the Russians did interfere. The president today was siding
with the Russians. How do you read that? SEN. RAND PAUL: I’m not so sure I would describe
it as siding with the Russians. I would say that President Trump has healthy
dose of skepticism towards our intelligence community. And I — I share some of that. I mean, James Clapper came before the Senate
and lied. He said they weren’t collecting our information. That’s the biggest bold-faced
lie that we have had in decades, and nobody did anything about it. James Clapper lied
to the U.S. Senate about collecting our data. You now have John Brennan, whose first vote
was for the communist party, now calling President Trump a traitor. And so these people have
really exposed or revealed themselves as great partisans. And yet they had the power to snoop
on any American, to snoop on any person in the world. And believe you me, they were scooping up
everybody’s information. JUDY WOODRUFF: But, Senator, it’s also the
current head of intelligence, heads of intelligence, who are saying they believe the Russians interfered. Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence,
said last week there’s no question the Russians interfered. SEN. RAND PAUL: Right. JUDY WOODRUFF: Today, he put out a statement,
“We will continue to provide unvarnished, objective intelligence in support of national
security.” He’s saying he’s on guard for Russian interference. SEN. RAND PAUL: Right. Yes. And I’m not saying they didn’t interfere
with the election. In all likelihood, they did. There’s a guy named Dov Levin at Carnegie-Mellon
who looked at this from 1946 to 2000. And he found 81 times in which the U.S. intervened
in elections and about 36 times in the Soviet Union. None of it makes it right. But any country that can spy does, and any
country that can intervene in foreign elections does. And so, yes, we have been involved in
Russia and their elections. We have been involved in the Ukraine elections. And we say it’s for democracy, but we don’t
support the Russian party. We support the pro-Western party. And we paint ours as if
ours is always just on the up and up, but we get involved in foreign countries’ elections. And so, yes, I think we have elevated this
Russia thing to a degree that we are simply deranged by it. We are accusing President
Trump of all kinds of things that I do not believe he’s guilty of. But did the Russians get involved in it? Yes.
And what I would tell the Russians is exactly what I have told their ambassador and others,
is, if you thought it was going to help things, it’s actually backfired, because there can
be no rapprochement with Russia, no engagement with Russia because of the meddling in the
election. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Senator, you don’t think
Vladimir Putin got the best of President Trump today? SEN. RAND PAUL: No, not at all, because the
thing is, is that we dwarf all other powers now. Europe’s army, I think, is 13 times bigger
than Russia’s army. Us plus Europe, we’re probably 30, 40 times bigger. We spend more
on the military than the next 10 countries combined. There’s not even a real comparison between
the two. We are the sole remaining superpower. But I still think engagement is good, even
when you are the sole remaining superpower. JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky,
we thank you. SEN. RAND PAUL: Thank you.

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