Paul: Asking for Russian hackers’ extradition a ‘moot point’

Republican Sen. Rand Paul says asking for the extradition of the Russian intelligence agents indicted Friday for interfering in the 2016 election would be a “moot point.”

“I think it’d be a moot point; I don’t think Russia is sending anyone back over here for trial, the same way we wouldn’t send anybody over there for trial,” the Kentucky senator said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Paul was responding to a question about remarks Trump made to CBS News suggesting he would raise the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their summit in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday.

The Justice Department announced Friday that it had indicted 12 Russian military intelligence agents as part of the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The 12 defendants allegedly took part in Russia’s “sustained effort” to hack Democrats’ emails and computer networks.

“I think we have to protect ourselves,” Paul said. “So, because we waste time saying, ‘Well, Putin needs to admit this and apologize,’ — he’s not going to admit that he did it, and we can’t take on face value anything they tell us. … We should now spend our time protecting ourselves instead of sort of having this witch hunt on the President,” Paul said.

At a joint press conference Friday with British Prime Minister Theresa May, Trump told reporters he would “absolutely” bring up the issue of Russia interference in the election during his meeting with Putin.

“I will absolutely bring that up,” Trump said. “I don’t think you’ll have any, ‘Gee, I did it. I did it. You got me.’ There won’t be a Perry Mason here, I don’t think. But you never know what happens, right? But I will absolutely firmly ask the question, and hopefully we’ll have a very good relationship with Russia.”

Paul also told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday that the U.S. needs to continue to focus on ensuring its electoral process is protected.

“I think really we mistake our response if we think it’s about accountability from the Russians,” Paul said. “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.”

“We all do it,” Paul added. “What we need to do is make sure our electoral process is protected.”