Sen. Mike Lee granted visa to Russia after other senators' requests are denied

Sen. Mike Lee granted visa to Russia after other senators' requests are denied
© Aaron Schwartz

Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeExclusive: Kushner tells GOP it needs to unify behind immigration plan Manufacturing group leads coalition to urge Congress to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank Overnight Defense: GOP grumbles after Trump delays military projects for wall | House panel hints at subpoena for Afghanistan envoy | Kabul bombing raises doubts about Taliban talks MORE (R-Utah) has been granted a visa to visit Russia after Moscow previously rejected two other senators’ requests to be allowed to travel to the country.

A spokesman for Lee told The Hill that the Utah Republican will travel to Russia from Sept. 5 to 8 and will meet with government officials and members of the business community, as well as outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Russia and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.Jon HuntsmanSen. Mike Lee granted visa to Russia after other senators' requests are denied Jon Huntsman Jr. — Good for Everybody MORE

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Lee intends to discuss “trade and military relations, [and] religious liberty,” the spokesman said. “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.” 

Politico first reported the news of Lee’s visa.

Sens. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyProspects for Trump gun deal grow dimmer This week: House jump-starts effort to prevent shutdown Senators struggle to get spending bills off ground as shutdown looms MORE (D-Conn.) and Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonDemocratic senator warns O'Rourke AR-15 pledge could haunt party for years Conservatives offer stark warning to Trump, GOP on background checks Hillicon Valley: Google to promote original reporting | Senators demand answers from Amazon on worker treatment | Lawmakers weigh response to ransomware attacks MORE (R-Wis.), both of whom sit on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said last week they were denied visas.

“Unfortunately, the Russian government is further isolating their country by blocking our visit and several others in recent months,” Murphy said last week. “With the collapse of recent arms control agreements and significant domestic opposition to Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinFeehery: Impeachment fever bad for Democratic governing vision Taliban travels to Moscow after Trump declares talks dead Russians tune out Vladimir Putin MORE’s authoritarian rule, this is potentially a perilous moment for our two nations’ fragile relationship, and it’s a shame that Russia isn’t interested in dialogue.”

Russian President Putin has been a top target of bipartisan members of Congress who have panned the strongman over Moscow’s efforts to meddle in the 2016 presidential race.

However, President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness, ballots and battling opioids: Why the Universal Postal Union benefits the US Sanders supporters cry foul over Working Families endorsement of Warren California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth MORE has worked to improve the White House’s relationship with Putin, raising bipartisan criticism.

Russia in 2015 banned several members of Congress from visiting, including the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCain The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Biden's debate performance renews questions of health At debate, Warren and Buttigieg tap idealism of Obama, FDR MORE (R-Ariz.) over his support of sanctions against Moscow for its annexation of Crimea.