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 LeeThe Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in Overnight Defense: Senate votes to rein in Trump war powers on Iran | Pentagon shifting .8B to border wall | US, Taliban negotiate seven-day 'reduction in violence' The 8 Republicans who voted to curb Trump's Iran war powers 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 HuntsmanThe Hill's Campaign Report: Late bids surprise 2020 Democratic field Jon Huntsman announces run for Utah governor Jon Huntsman expected to run for governor in Utah MORE


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 MurphyLawmakers wary as US on cusp of initial deal with Taliban Democratic senators ask FDA to ban device used to shock disabled students Senators to meet with Zelensky after impeachment trial MORE (D-Conn.) and Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonFather of Parkland shooting victim calls on Congress to take action Senators to meet with Zelensky after impeachment trial Wyden, Mnuchin clash over Trump tax returns, Hunter Biden probe 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 PutinHow impeachment damaged US foreign policy Trump administration mulling special negotiator for nuke talks with Russia: report Former Goldman Sachs CEO rips Sanders after NH win: 'He'll ruin our economy' 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 TrumpTrump administration eyes proposal to block jet engine sales to China: report Trump takes track to open Daytona 500 Brazile 'extremely dismayed' by Bloomberg record 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 McCainEleventh Democratic presidential debate to be held in Phoenix Moderate Democrats now in a race against the clock Biden on Graham's push for investigation: 'I don't know what happened' to him MORE (R-Ariz.) over his support of sanctions against Moscow for its annexation of Crimea.