Updated at 8:12 p.m. ET on Tuesday 6/4
(CNN) – Access to top Russian officials by U.S. lawmakers was helped along by action movie star Steven Seagal – and more specifically the actor’s martial arts skills - the leader of a congressional delegation said Tuesday.
Speaking on CNN, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher said Seagal had fostered relationships with Russian leaders through his black belt skills, and arranged for American congressmen and women to meet those leaders last week.
“Because of his black belt in karate and things, he's gotten to know many of the leaders of Russia, including [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, and was able to use that influence to make sure we got to talk to the very top people, so that we could try to find ways of expanding our areas of cooperation,” Rohrabacher, a Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said on CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.”
Seagal is actually a 7th degree black belt in Aikido, a Japanese martial art, not karate.
The visit was intended in part to investigate aspects of April’s bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
Ahead of the attack, Moscow had provided intelligence to the United States about one of the suspects, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, before he visited Russia last year. But recently, Russian authorities have been criticized for not telling the United States all it knew.
Rohrabacher said Tuesday he and other lawmakers were in Russia to “try to find out how we can expand the arena of cooperation between Russia and the United States in dealing with the radical Islamic terrorist threat, which is taking the lives of both of our people.”
Seagal, Rohrabacher said, has “taken it upon himself” to help fight radical Islamic terrorism.
“He helped us get down to the school where hundreds of young children were murdered by Chechen radical Islamic terrorists. He's helping us understand the radical Islamic insurgencies we're having to deal with.”