Sen. Rand Paul on Sunday said it’s a mistake to try to extract accountability from Russia for its interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and that countries with the means to meddle in foreign elections, including the U.S., have at least tried to do so in the past.
“They’re another country. They’re going to spy on us. They do spy on us. They’re going to interfere in our elections. We also do the same,” the Kentucky Republican said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“We all do it. What we need to do is make sure our electoral process is protected, and I think because this has gotten partisan and it’s all about partisan politics, we’ve forgotten that, really, the most important thing is the integrity of our election,” Mr. Paul said.
He said from Russia’s perspective, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, was responsible for some meddling during the Obama administration.
“I’m not saying they’re equivalent, or morally equivalent, but I am saying that this is the way the Russians respond,” the senator said.
Ahead of President Trump’s Monday meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, Mr. Paul said he doubted the Russians would admit it, in the same way the U.S. isn’t going to admit its influence in campaigns in other countries’ elections.
“So all countries that can spy, do. All countries that want to interfere in elections and have the ability … they try,” he said.
Mr. Paul said the recent indictment of 12 Russian military officers for allegedly stealing Democratic emails and interfering in the 2016 election is a “good thing,” but that the Department of Justice probably could have gotten to the bottom of things without a special counsel.
“If we have proof that they did it, which it sounds we did, we should now spend our time protecting ourselves instead of sort of having this witch hunt on the president,” he said.
He said there’s “no evidence” so far that Mr. Trump has been personally involved.
“So I think we need to be done with this so we can start actually protecting our elections from foreign countries,” Mr. Paul said.
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