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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Democrats Riled by Report on Russia Policy

WASHINGTON — Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are protesting in advance a report to be released Wednesday by congressional Republicans that sharply criticizes the Clinton administration’s handling of U.S.-Russian relations after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The 209-page report, written by 12 Republicans on the Speaker’s Advisory Group on Russia, says the relationship between the two nations has soured in recent years. It contends deterioration occurred partly because the United States has spent too much time with too few leaders in Moscow, ignored corruption and given poor and ineffective economic advice.

"Putting this report on congressional letterhead is sending a fraudulent message to the American people that this is a congressional report," the Democratic congressmen said in the letter sent Monday to House Speaker Dennis Hastert, a Republican from Illinois.

The letter was signed by five ranking Democratic members of House committees with jurisdiction over U.S.-Russia policy: Armed Services, Banking, Appropriations, Intelligence and International Relations. They complain they were not invited to any of the advisory group’s meetings, hearings or policy discussions and still have not seen the report.

"This is a political hatchet job. It’s outrageous," said Representative Sam Gejdenson, a Democrat from Connecticut and the ranking minority member of the House International Relations Committee. "They wrote this report trying to distort the administration’s record on Russia."

Republican Representative Christopher Cox of California, who chaired the advisory group, defended the review. He said the report, in the works since March, is being released now before Congress adjourns and because U.S. policy toward Russia, like Medicare prescription drug benefits and Social Security, should be at issue in the presidential campaign.

"We think it’s important to have Republican policy on Russia. We’re a democracy. That’s how we make public policy choices," Cox said. "There can be no better time than now."

Democrats argue that the report is meant to attack Vice President Al Gore, who was an architect of Russian foreign policy during the Clinton administration.

The timing of the release, in the waning days of the 106th Congress, just seven weeks before the presidential election, makes the report appear to be an "election-year gimmick," Gejdenson said.

Using the regular congressional committee process to examine Russian foreign policy would have ensured bipartisan participation in the writing of the report, the letter said.