Russia grants visa to Sen. Mike Lee after rebuffing other senators
Sen. Mike Lee received a visa to travel to Russia this week, according to his spokesman, after the Kremlin denied visas to several of his colleagues.
Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, both members of the Foreign Relations Committee, said last week the Russian government refused to grant them visas.
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A spokesman for Lee said the Utah Republican will visit Russia Sept. 5-8 and meet with government officials and members of the business community, including outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman Jr.
Lee plans to discuss “trade and military relations [and] religious liberty,” the spokesman added in a statement. “It is important for the United States to maintain a strong and open dialogue with the Russian Federation in order to make progress on matters that are central to American peace and prosperity.”
It was unclear last week whether Lee would receive his visa amid growing discord between the Senate and Moscow.
Both Murphy and Johnson expressed outrage after their visa denials, arguing that such a move only hurts the United States’ relationship with Russia even as Trump makes overtures to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In 2015, Russia banned several members of Congress, including the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who was chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. The ban came after McCain supported sanctions against Russia for illegally annexing Crimea.
Burgess Everett contributed to this report.