Members of the delegation set off on their trip late last week promising to be tough with Russian officials ahead of the president’s visit, especially on matters of election interference. But they struck a conciliatory tone once there: The point of their visit, Shelby stressed to the Duma leader, was to “strive for a better relationship” with Moscow, not “accuse Russia of this or that or so forth.”
It played well in Moscow, but not on the home front…
The senators who posted Fourth of July messages on social media while still in Moscow took some of the sharpest criticism, some of which highlighted that while they met with Kremlin-connected officials, Britain discovered that two of its citizens had been poisoned by a suspected Russian nerve agent, the same substance that injured a former Russian spy and his daughter in England in March.
Others pointed out that while the delegation was in Russia, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report finding Russia had interfered in the 2016 presidential election with a clear preference for helping Trump defeat former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. Only one of the delegation participants, Kennedy, sits on a congressional panel that has looked into the Russia probe.