Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) appeared to stun CNN's Wolf Blitzer with his comments defending President Donald Trump and his surprisingly positive press conference with Russian president Vladimir Putin Monday.
A bit of "Trump derangement syndrome"
"You know I think engagement with our adversaries," Paul said on CNN, "conversation with our adversaries is a good idea."
"Even in the height of the Cold War," he continued, "maybe at the lowest ebb when were in the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis, I think it was a good thing that [President John] Kennedy had a direct line with [Russian Premier] Khrushchev."
"I think it was a good thing that we continued to have ambassadors to Russia even when we really objected greatly to what was going on, even during Stalin's regime," he added. "So I think that it is a good idea to have engagement, and I think that what is lost in this, is that I think there's a bit of 'Trump derangement syndrome.'"
"I think there are people who hate the president so much that this could have easily been President Obama early in his first administration setting the reset button and trying to have better relations with Russia and I think it's lost on people that they are a nuclear power," Paul continued, "they have influence in Syria, they're in close proximity to our troops in Syria, they are close to the peninsula of North Korea, they have some influence that could help us there."
"But senator, it's not a matter of hating President Trump," Blitzer responded, "it's a matter of what he did today, what he said today."
Paul zeroed in on the characterization of Trump siding with Russia against the intelligence services that came to the conclusion that they interfered with the 2016 election. Paul listed off the instances of bias from various intelligence officials, and backed Trump's skepticism of their conclusion.
"All countries are doing this"
Blitzer pointed out that the conclusion was also made from Trump's own director of national intelligence, Dan Coats. Paul responded that the United States was also guilty of interfering with other countries' elections.
"It doesn't make it right," Paul explained, "but I've said this before and I'll say it again, any country that can spy, does, and any country that can meddle in foreign elections, does."
"All countries are doing this," Paul added, "but we've elevated this to a higher degree and we've made this all about the sour grapes of Hillary Clinton losing the election, and it's all about partisan politics now."
"This is truly the Trump derangement syndrome that motivates all of this!" Paul concluded.
Watch the combative interview from CNN below:
Blitzer finished the interview by scolding Senator Paul on his views, and thanked him for appearing. When Paul refused to respond and began taking off his microphone, Blitzer added, "Senator Rand Paul, remaining silent in the aftermath of that. Appreciate it very much."
Various other political figures and pundits condemned the comments from President Trump which appeared to put more trust in the word of the murderous President of the Russian Federation, than in the conclusions of the U.S. intelligence community.