FIRST ON CNN: Boehner turns down request to meet with Russian delegation
September 4th, 2013
06:50 PM ET
9 years 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. Hulot

    I guess AIPAC didn’t allow him to talk to the Russians

    September 4, 2013 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  2. Hscrugby

    Well done Mr. Speaker. I'm not a fan of Obama, but he is the President. This request from Russia was horribly disrespectful and should have been publicly declined

    September 4, 2013 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  3. Strangways

    way to go, Boner boy – cement the impression that the US is arrogant. G-o-D forbid we should talk to another world power. This is EXACTLY the attitude that bought us a world of pain (and destroyed a country) in Iraq. WHEN is your term up?

    September 4, 2013 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  4. Roy Ussery

    Communism at work. And we thought Regan ended the cold war.

    September 4, 2013 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  5. Dyan S

    And they say we're not an empire.

    September 4, 2013 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  6. SanDiegoWatch

    Russia has evidence the chemical weapons were released by the rebels/terrorist.

    John doesn't matter who's in office anymore.

    Different sides of the same coin.

    There is no reason for us to intervene.

    September 4, 2013 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  7. dalene44

    Boehner is so desperate for obama's war to start he refuses to listen to another side? Give peace a chance

    September 4, 2013 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  8. Ken

    That is sad. We would rather just go launch bombs. Russia has turned over a declassified intel report on what is really happening over there. So far that is much more than the American people are getting from our government's declassified "evidence." I will support, with my dollars, any representatives that will hear this delegation out.

    September 4, 2013 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  9. Norman Hirsch

    Thank you John Boehner for making a very good decision! I've never said that before but you did the right thing and I applaud you for it. Sure we have political squabbles between Dems and GOP and clearly Putin thought he could wedge himself in there and raise havoc. Glad to know when push comes to shove, you stick up for what is right rather than take the opposition side or let that schmuck Putin interfere in our politics and/or foreign policy. You could also suggest he bring back the Superbowl ring that he stole.

    September 4, 2013 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  10. Jeeps Johnstone

    I'm no fan of Boehner, but I applaud him on this one.

    September 4, 2013 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  11. Brandon F.

    What would be the harm of at least talking to the delegation? If you have conclusive evidence of the utilization of chemical weapons you can present it to them. This was a priceless opportunity to improve the relationship between our two governments.

    If you can't have a dialogue with your rivals or those who disagree with your position – if you can't treat them as you would hope that they would treat you – you have no ethical or professional standing to make a statement of superiority. Even if you expect them not to return the favor – it says more about you than them.

    Boehner – you are not a statesmen. You obviously cannot debate logically or factually. You have no intention to improve the diplomatic situation. You are a coward and I hope the generations to come use you as an example of what a congressmen or congresswoman should not be.

    Imagine the public relations bonanza if we could turn Russia to our side or at least conclusively provide the evidence that the U.N., Russia, China and the world are asking for. Even if the Russians then try to ignore the evidence they will have lost face and we will have diminished our reputation as a failing empire. Satellite photos of the launch areas or the rocket trajectories is not going to endanger any informant's lives.

    September 4, 2013 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  12. CJ

    Wow. The US Congress won't even listen to the Russians. I'm doubting more and more the evidence our government purportedly has... There are continued conflicting reports which are stating that the rebels set these devices off. If this evidence is so irrefutable, I'd like to see it released to the Public. Why will no one else in the UN step in? Because it's not a clear cut case of the Syrian regime's guilt....

    September 4, 2013 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  13. Erasto

    Thumbs up Speaker. It is time the US takes its position as the world leader and not be swayed by the Russians and the Chinese

    September 4, 2013 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  14. CJ

    House Speaker John Boehner I just want you to know that as a citizen I feel better about this situation if we get as many countries involved in how to handle this situation with Syria than just depending on the US to do it alone. Sometimes it's better to bite your upper lip, and keep your trap shut when it comes to threats, raves and rants and be a man and discuss what needs to be done. You can't get anything done if you continue to act like an eight year old.

    September 4, 2013 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  15. AZ_Ronin

    It's called "Divide and Conquer" The rift between this dysfunctional congress and the President is so bad that other countries are now trying to use this to their advantage. This just may be the best decision Boehner ever made... It's about time he woke up. Now if he could get the rest of the obstrucionists in line; we could actually move forward. But I won't hold my breath on that...

    September 4, 2013 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  16. Angelo Amadio

    Shocker... Putin was the cold war to return. KGB. Ugggg. America is broke, people are being slaughtered, and we can no longer go at it alone. We need World support but nothing positive would result by meeting with Russia on this matter.

    September 4, 2013 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  17. LCSWquilter

    This isn't the first time that foreign governments have lobbied our Congress.

    September 4, 2013 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  18. Angelo Amadio

    Putin wants. Typo sorry.

    September 4, 2013 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  19. JayCal

    Because Boehner "fully supports" Obama's decision, he refuses to MEET with the Russian delegation to discuss NOT having another WAR? So who are the peace keepers here? Would it be country #1 who sees a "line crossed" with chemical weapons (allegedly), but certainly no line is crossed from the hundreds of thousands of deaths in the last couple years by bullets and bombs, right? Or would it be country #2 (and 3, and 4, and so on) who would like Diplomacy? Yep, our wonderful U.S. Gov. would like to just go straight to bombing another country, yet again. For THEIR civil war ugliness, we will fix this by bombing them. Oh, but our drones are so accurate you say? Yes, tell that to the citizens of Yemen and the likes.. Our missiles never kill innocent civilians. And why again I ask? Why is the US "policing" the region? We all know it's to serve their (gov.) "interests". Read the posts on every article. The US citizens are overwhelmingly against this. But Obama will make his sales pitch and do it regardless of the answer. Despite the recent findings that it may have in fact been the REBELS who actually used chemical weapons! But we won't acknowledge that. We will dismiss such "baseless rhetoric". No, not OUR Syrian rebels!
    Hmm, or could this impending strike have anything to do with the coming economic catastrophe in the US and the world for that matter? With news like Syria, who has time to notice that we've long exceeded our debt ceiling which magically has just stopped moving upward. They're crooked. Here's an idea Mr. Obama and the US Government. How about YOU personally, march directly into Syria and pick up a gun. If you truly believe this is a fight worth fighting, show it rather than sending yet more troops into battle to die horrendously. Yes, horrendous. War is not something to take lightly. You go first and then maybe we'll follow.. yeah, didn't think so.

    September 4, 2013 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  20. sisterchef

    Talking hurts since when?

    September 4, 2013 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  21. lloyd roberts

    Only one reason why anyone from congress would meet with a Russian delegation, to embarrass the president. The congress would never go against the executive branch with a h=behind the back meeting on foreign policy. Just not done here. But with the tea party, ya never know

    September 4, 2013 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  22. schoolsub

    I hope that the Speaker declined in favor of their meeting with the President. It sounds to me that they were taking this opportunity to undercut the President and to embarrass the United States.

    September 4, 2013 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  23. Sam

    This is precisely the arrogant self-serving garbage that makes our legislator actions so repugnant. We are getting ready to get involved militarily in the middle east...AGAIN....and these guys won't even talk to people who might be able to broker a solution. Not only that, the Russians have left the door open to military action if they can be convinced the Assad regime was the guilty party.
    This whole think stinks of coverup and getting involved with Iran.

    September 4, 2013 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  24. Stupid

    With strained relations with Russia. I think they should at least hear what they have to say.

    September 4, 2013 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  25. Cynthia Gurin

    Right. Refuse to talk. That ought to be helpful to global problem solving.

    September 4, 2013 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
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