FIRST ON CNN: Boehner turns down request to meet with Russian delegation
September 4th, 2013
06:50 PM ET
1 year ago

FIRST ON CNN: Boehner turns down request to meet with Russian delegation

Washington (CNN) – House Speaker John Boehner turned down a request from Russian diplomats who hope to directly lobby the U.S. Congress and undercut President Barack Obama on Syria.

“The Speaker has declined the Russian embassy’s request that he meet with a delegation," said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel.

A spokesman for the Russian embassy in Washington told CNN Wednesday that diplomats sent an official request to congressional leaders to meet with them on Capitol Hill.

“We’re planning the visit,” an embassy spokesman told CNN. “We can’t tell you the exact time, but it will be next week.”

Still under discussion in Moscow: exactly who will be in the delegation.

The embassy spokesman said only wide parameters are firm right now, that it will be members of both the upper and lower chambers of the Russian parliament and that they intend to meet with senators and House members of both political parties.

Russia, a Syrian ally and major trading partner, is closely tied with the Assad government and leaders in Moscow have vocally opposed U.S. military intervention in the conflict.

It’s not clear how other congressional leaders besides Boehner will respond to the request, but the delegation could face a cool reception if they arrive on Capitol Hill.

“At this particular point, my understanding has been that relations between members of Congress and the Russian parliament have been very sour,” said Dick Lugar, former head of Senate Foreign Relations Committee and known for his work with Russian officials.

“I don’t think a delegation from Russia will make any difference in terms of congressional votes,” he added. “But at the same time there may be the possibility that dialogue could lead to other positive things.”

When told about the request, one House leadership aide was less embracing, sarcastically replying, “Good luck to ‘em!"


Filed under: Congress • Russia • Syria
soundoff (183 Responses)
  1. G. Shank

    I hope Congress is satisfied now. With all their grand standing and objecting to everything Obama proposses the Russians are now inboldened to think that they can influence our governing body and policy making. I can't say that I can blame them, just about every republican on the panel thinks that he has to have gaurentees as to what is going to happen if Obama takes action against Syria. Sense when is it wrong to do the right thing? Why can't they see that if nothing is done Syria is just going to do it again and rub our rightous faces in it, (mostly the ones that don't know the consequences of standing up for the morally right course of action.

    September 4, 2013 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  2. Mac

    Yes! Speak with the Russian Embassay! We must exhaust all peaceful avenues before any kind of military intervention!

    September 4, 2013 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  3. nodejong

    As a fellow Ohioan (John Boehner is from Ohio) I feel that regardless of his own personal feelings – and perhaps the majority of the House – he should think about how this will play out in the world's media. To people outside of the US – and I can personally vouch for that as I lived abroad for a good number of years – this will sound like this: "We have evidence of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian army.... but we will not share or discuss this with you." If we want to act as the – self-proclaimed – leaders of the free world we are actually coming across as arrogant and we will help improve the US world relations which are already not the greatest. That in and on itself can and will create more problems than any action will ever resolve. That is not the way to bring 'free' to the world and definitely doesn't speak well to our ability to 'lead' a free world...

    September 4, 2013 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  4. Valerie Bush

    How are the Russians able to just tell us that they are coming to our country. Would the Americans be able to go to their land. They are trying to punk us! Disrespectful to President Obama!

    September 4, 2013 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  5. Pkk

    Why would any member of congress consult with, or even consider the opinion of members of a foreign government? Isn't that the role of The State Department? What's next Putin taking the spare bedroom at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

    September 4, 2013 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  6. Michael J. Marsalek

    It is the height of ignorance for the Weeper Of The House to snub the Russian delegation. Now then, only wars of self-defense or wars authorized by the U.N. Security Council are legal under international law. If the U.S. attacks Syria, it will be an illegal act of war not to mention a terrorist attack by definition. Russia is Syria's closest ally and trading partner. Syria will have every legal right to retaliate against the United States and with the assistance of Russia & Iran. Given the severity of the situation, Babbling Boehner is in way over his head.

    September 4, 2013 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  7. Paul E. Jones

    Is our leadership so bull-headed? Do that have absolutely no desire for good diplomatic relationships? Do they want to bring about WW3? What in the world are they thinking?

    Use of chemical weapons was bad, but this is not our fight. To say the Asad government is evil is nonsense, really. If me and a bunch of people decided to overthrow the US government, what would happen to us? Well, we'd be shot my the military, too. That's just the way it is.

    There is a civil war, it's ugly, and there are no good or bad sides in the war. Absolutely nothing good can come of US involvement in the war, but I can see us making more enemies by getting involved.

    It would be much better if the US just sits this one out. It's is not our fight.

    September 4, 2013 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  8. Hmmm

    I'm glad to see both parties of Congress agreeing on one thing and acting like a team. Whatever both parties believe in, they both seem to agree that the use of chemical weapons is inexcusable.

    September 4, 2013 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  9. navaJohn

    humm... Don't forget to bring back the Super Bowl ring.

    September 4, 2013 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  10. jo

    Its quite possible the Russians have enough pull with Assad to remove the chemical weapons and delivery systems. Mission accomplished; no bombing, no boots, no side effects. Boehner is making a mistake here. Petty grievances and silly pride are wasting an good opportunity.

    September 4, 2013 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  11. ak_steve

    Well, at least we can all go back to hating the Russians again. Now that is progress,

    September 4, 2013 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  12. Kip Portland, Oregon)

    Tonight on the PBS Newshour program, a US Senator from Nebraska revealed that in a briefing the US Senate learned that Russia was supplying the chemical weapons to Syria that they had used 15 times in recent days. I live in Oregon and we destroyed all of the tons of chemical weapons stored at the igloos on the Umatilla US Army base per the Treaty we signed with Russia to eliminate such weapons. My understanding is that both Russia and the United stated had agreed to destroy all their chemical weapons. If Russia has recently supplied chemical weapons to Syria it shows it still has chemical weapons. My question is whether Russia in breach of the treaty it signed with the United States to get rid of all such weapons. The United States would look duped if it had destroyed all of its chemical weapons while Russia in essence cheated and did not destroy all of their stockpile of chemical weapons.

    September 4, 2013 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  13. richard

    nice our president is starting ww3 because of a whim, what a moron

    September 4, 2013 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  14. William Eddy

    Please do not help Al Qaeda. Leave Syria alone.

    September 4, 2013 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  15. Termi

    Funny how Russia was so quick to poke the US in the eye the many times that it did. In fact the US even left Syria alone despite Russia's intervention by supplying Al Assad with weapons and arms. And even poked the US in the eye with Snowden. So just how long did they think that would actually last ? So now that Russia's interests are at stake they want to try to talk the US Congress out of it. They should have thought about that before they wanted to be friendly to the Americans by offering asylum and poking the US in the eye continually. This is really their own doing wanting to be friends now because it only serves their own interests. But when the US had interest it was ignored. Is Russia acting like a pack of hypocrits? I think very much so.

    September 4, 2013 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  16. Daniel

    Good on Boehner not to set a precedent for future dialogue that might undercut the President; regardless of which party is in power. Smart.

    September 4, 2013 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  17. Sharkbait

    Way to go Bonner! Actually glad he snubbed his nose at them-I remember when the Russian Politicians refused to shake hands with Obama, that was a slap in the face. Regardless if I agree with everything he does, he is still my president. Although I am not a fan of the Russians, I agree there needs to be conclusive evidence that the regime used chemical weapons before we even consider launching missiles at them.

    September 4, 2013 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  18. WeCometoThis

    That's right Boehner, Russia does not run the United States, tell Russia to go eat their own gas.

    September 4, 2013 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  19. TexTeacher

    I bet the only weak link who will talk to them will be Rand Paul. The Russians know he is the weak link.

    September 4, 2013 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  20. Puffy

    Russian has done nothing for US and has no respect to our President. We are stronger without Russian...

    September 4, 2013 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  21. Matt

    Maybe...for once we should put aside unrelated differences and be pretend to be adults for once and at least meet with them.

    September 4, 2013 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  22. paul w

    Its good to see Mr. Boehner isn't for sale, at least on this issue

    September 4, 2013 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  23. AlFetahh

    The US bully wants to diplomatic solution. They want regime change. Someone needs to teach these bullies a lesson. Punish them for violating international laws!

    September 4, 2013 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  24. NAdia

    Hello to all my name is Nadia and I came to US when I was 13 years old and Im blesses to live here love this country and would never trade it for anything else!!!! No other country would give you grants and scholarships for education or support you in the time of need if your hungry you can go to the shelter where they give you free food and if you land in the airport none squeezes the money out of you like I said I love this country!!! Not much to say about my native country dear Russia lets just say not with love from Russia I was watching Russian news today and was disgusted with how Russian president Putin is talking dirty about US and about our president Barack Obama we all know that we don't have it perfect !! Needless to say Russia and its president should not judge, dear President Putin gets rid of journalist when he pleases, goes into Georgian Territory to show his mighty strength. Who they ask for approval? No one and than to sit there in front of Russian parliament and say that US does not know what its doing and we just start random wars based on no evidence shut up MR PUTIN please look at you, you wish Russia was half of the US your people are so corrupt, you are corrupt, you have nothing on my country you will never win or be smarten because your people don't have integrati like we Americans DO

    September 4, 2013 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  25. Bhiner99

    Good for Speaker Boehner. They are obviously trying to undermine the commander in chief at a time when the US needs to show a united face to the world. That can't be allowed to happen. Putin is a bully and a thug. He needs to have the people's house door closed firmly in his face.

    September 5, 2013 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
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