Sanctioned Russian Spy Official Met With Counterparts In U.S.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks to reporters ahead of President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Schumer said Trump should thank his predecessor, Barack Obama, for the booming economy during the address. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration let a top Russian spy official visit the United States last week for meetings with U.S. intelligence officials even though there are sanctions against him that typically prohibit such visits, officials said Tuesday.

The Russian ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, said on Russian state TV that Sergei Naryshkin, head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, met with his U.S. counterparts about the fight against terrorism.

The visit came less than a week before President Donald Trump decided not to issue any new sanctions against Russian politicians and oligarchs over Russian meddling in the U.S. election.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., a frequent critic of Trump’s treatment of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government, said the timing of the trip was suspicious.

“This is a serious national security issue,” Schumer told reporters. “Russia hacked our elections. We sanctioned the head of their foreign intelligence, and then the Trump administration invites him to waltz through our front door. This is an extreme dereliction of duty by President Trump, who seems more intent on undermining the rule of law in this country than standing up to Putin.”

Schumer wants to know whether sanctions were discussed, whether Naryshkin also met with White House or national security officials and whether other sanctioned Russian officials were along on the trip. Naryshkin was sanctioned in 2014 in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

The CIA released a statement saying that while it does not discuss the schedules of U.S. intelligence leaders, “rest assured that any interaction with foreign intelligence agencies would have been conducted in accordance with U.S. law and in consultation with appropriate departments and agencies.”

Jonathan Schanzer, a sanctions expert at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, said that typically, people who have been sanctioned have their assets frozen and are barred from entering the United States. He said there are cases where individuals from sanctioned countries enter the United States after getting permission to attend meetings at the United Nations.

Situations like Naryshkin’s visit are more unusual, Schanzer said.

“We don’t see this sort of thing being reported very often,” he said.

By DEB RIECHMANN - JAN 30. 2018 - 7:14 PM EDT AP

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Associated Press writers Richard Lardner in Washington and Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report.

 
 

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