In early August of this year, Kentucky GOP Senator Rand Paul traveled to Russia to deliver a hand-written letter from Donald Trump to Vladimir Putin:
Many have also seen the visuals of Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul hobnobbing in Moscow this week with members of the Russian Council, sometimes called his “counterparts.” These included the chairman of the council’s foreign policy panel, Konstantin Kosachev, who happens to be under official U.S. sanction for his government’s actions against our government.
But that didn’t seem to bother Paul, who invited Kosachev and others to visit the USA.
Indeed, this sanction and other tokens of disapproval imposed on Russian officials in the past year have not seemed to chill the enduring warmth between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump. Paul carried a handwritten note from Trump to Putin on his trip.
It appears that Rand Paul didn’t just deliver a letter from Trump to Putin. Rand Paul also seems to have been given some instructions: remove sanctions against Russia.
Sen. Rand Paul reportedly plans to file an amendment on Wednesday to change several executive orders that would lift U.S. sanctions on Russian lawmakers and allow them to travel to America.
The amendment is supposed to be presented to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday, according to the Daily Beast.
The amendment states that if Moscow is willing to lift sanctions against the United States, then the United States will, in turn, remove sanctions against members of the Russian Federal Assembly.
Sanctions against Russia were first put into place after Russia’s invasions of Georgia and Ukraine, and Russia has been working ever since to have these sanctions lifted because they have made it more difficult for Russian oligarchs to launder money out of Russia.
What made Russian officialdom so mad about the Magnitsky Act is that it was the first time that there was some kind of roadblock to getting stolen money to safety. In Russia, after all, officers and bureaucrats could steal it again, the same way they had stolen it in the first place: a raid, an extortion racket, a crooked court case with forged documents—the possibilities are endless. Protecting the money meant getting it out of Russia. But what happens if you get it out of Russia and it’s frozen by Western authorities? What’s the point of stealing all that money if you can’t enjoy the Miami condo it bought you? What’s the point if you can’t use it to travel to the Côte d’Azur in luxury?
Russian Sanctions were one of the main topics of the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between a Russian lawyer and Donald Trump Jr:
CNN obtained the email exchange and a five-page talking points memo from May 2016 about why the Magnitsky Act should be repealed from Scott Balber, a lawyer representing Aras Agalarov, a wealthy Russian real estate investor who helped orchestrate the Trump Tower meeting.
Balber is also representing Emin Agalarov, Aras Agalarov’s son, who asked the publicist to set up the Trump Tower meeting.
“The documents and what she told me are consistent with my client’s understanding of the purpose of the meeting, which was from the beginning and at all times thereafter about her efforts to launch a legislative review of the Magnitsky Act,” Balber told CNN of Veselnitskaya
The specific sanctions that Rand Paul is trying to have removed were put into place in April of this year due to Russia’s election meddling in 2016, and name many of the Russian oligarchs personally who have been hurt by the previous sanctions that hindered their ability to launder money out of Russia, as well as several Russian government officials:
The United States on Friday imposed major sanctions against 24 Russians, striking at allies of President Vladimir Putin over Moscow’s alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and other “malign activity”.
Rand Paul has previously stated that he thought the sanctions should be lifted because the sanctions would just make the Russians continue their bad behavior:
“You can try to put sanctions on Russia and punish them but their response is to become more firm in their resolve not to do something,” Paul explained.
Perhaps there is some truth to Rand Paul’s belief that sanctions against Russia would just make the Russians continue their bad behavior, because it seems the Russians have decided to openly collude with a United States Senator named Rand Paul.