WASHINGTON — Sen. Rand Paul said Wednesday that he was "honored" to deliver a letter from President Donald Trump to the administration of Russian President Vladimir Putin during his trip to Moscow this week.
“The letter emphasized the importance of further engagement in various areas including countering terrorism, enhancing legislative dialogue and resuming cultural exchanges,” Paul, a Kentucky Republican, wrote, though he didn't provide any additional details.
In a follow-up statement, Paul’s office said that the senator delivered the letter to representatives of Putin since the Russian leader himself was not in Moscow during Paul’s visit.
White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley confirmed the message, saying Paul had asked for the letter. “At Senator Paul’s request, President Trump provided a letter of introduction," he said in a statement. "In the letter, the President mentioned topics of interest that Senator Paul wanted to discuss with President Putin.”
Paul's trip during the Senate’s recess this week also included a meeting with former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev. Rand said he secured an agreement for members of the Russian Federation to visit Washington at his invitation, which would be their first official D.C. trip in nearly three years.
The news comes after the White House's recent announcement that Trump would delay any meeting with Putin until next year because of the Russia investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller.
"The president believes that the next bilateral meeting with President Putin should take place after the Russia witch hunt is over, so we’ve agreed that it will be after the first of the year," said Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton said in a statement last month.
Trump came under fire last month for his handling of the summit with Putin last month in Helsinki and for his comments made at a joint news conference.