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- Republican Sen. Steve Daines was part of a congressional delegation to Russia, but departed earlier than his colleagues on the trip.
- Some Twitter users spread erroneous theories that he was lying about being in Washington for Independence Day.
WASHINGTON – Republican Sen. Steve Daines was part of a congressional delegation to Moscow, Russia, over the past week and scheduled to come to an end on Thursday. Daines joined several Republican senators looking to discuss policy and hash out key differences with the United States adversary ahead of President Donald Trump’s planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 16 in Helsinki, Finland.
But Daines departed Russia earlier than his colleagues and returned to Washington before trekking back to his home state of Montana, where Trump is holding a campaign rally Tuesday night. An aide to Daines confirmed the trip details to Business Insider.
When Daines arrived back in Washington to celebrate Independence Day on Wednesday, he tweeted about it.
What a treat to be in DC to celebrate the 4th and watch some great fireworks! pic.twitter.com/oGaPWTQ2of
— Steve Daines (@SteveDaines) July 5, 2018
But because there was no announcement that he had returned to the US from Russia, conspiracy theorists swarmed about his actual whereabouts or if he was trying to mislead the public.
Ben Wexler, a television writer and producer, tweeted to his more than Twitter 26,000 followers that “In a normal year, a U.S. Senator lying about where he was on the 4th of July (he was in Moscow) would be a major scandal.”
Wexler’s false tweet was hardly the only one. A Twitter user by the name of “Schooley,” a verified account with more than 41,000 followers, posted about Daines’ travel through much of the day, even after being notified that he had returned to Washington.
“How is it that Daines is on the Moscow roster according to news sources but he’s tweeting about being in Washington?,” he wrote in a tweet with accompanying screenshots of Daines’ past tweets.
The congressional delegation to Russia has received mild coverage, with the GOP lawmakers attempting to establish a dialogue in an otherwise rocky political climate.
“I’m not here today to accuse Russia of this or that or so forth,” Sen. Richard Shelby told Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin during their meeting on Tuesday. “I’m saying that we should all strive for a better relationship.”
The Washington Post reported that one Democrat, New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, was denied a visa to Moscow.