In the wake of Donald Trump's meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) has accused the summit's critics of "Trump Derangement Syndrome."
The comment came during a Monday appearance with PBS' NewsHour. Earlier in the interview, Paul argued that having a conversation, "even with our adversaries," is beneficial for addressing the countries' mutual interests. "It would be nice to have help from Russia on North Korea as far as denuclearization," he told Judy Woodruff. "We have the Ukraine situation. So…I think that we won't have any progress if we don't have any conversations."
Later, Paul addressed the meeting's critics:
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.
Paul also published a defense of the president's meeting in Politico, writing: "Politicizing international affairs is a dangerous game, but that hasn't stopped far too many in Washington, who seem to have forgotten that a vital part of keeping America safe and secure is avoiding war through strong and consistent diplomacy, from playing politics."
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
Earlier this week, Paul sparked a bit of outrage when Trump critics focused on a line from his Sunday interview with CNN's Jake Tapper. Paul observed that the U.S., like Russia, has meddled in foreign elections, saying, "We all do it." Though Paul made the statement in the midst of calling for stronger protections for the American electoral process, like Mother Jones' David Corn called Paul a traitor.
Bonus link: Katherine Mangu-Ward, Peter Suderman, Nick Gillespie, and Matt Welch discuss Rand Paul's Sunday comments on the Reason Podcast.