FACT CHECK: Did A GOP Senator Lie About Where He Was On July 4?

Emily Larsen | Fact Check Reporter

Many people on Twitter Thursday suggested that Montana Sen. Steve Daines tried to make it appear that he was in Washington, D.C. on Independence Day when he was actually in Russia.

“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,” producer Ben Wexler tweeted.

“Senator Daines sent out a 4th of July tweet implying he was at the Capitol the same day he was in Russia,” Don Moynihan, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said in a tweet.

“How is it that Daines is on the Moscow roster according to news sources but he’s tweeting about being in Washington?” producer Robert Schooley tweeted.

Verdict: False

Daines arrived back in Washington a little after 5 p.m. on the Fourth of July. He flew to Montana the next day to attend President Donald Trump’s rally.

Fact Check:

A delegation of Republican lawmakers, including Daines, met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on Tuesday ahead of Trump’s planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on July 16. Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby led the group of seven senators and one House member – the first congressional delegation to Russia since it annexed Crimea in 2014.

Russian news agency TASS said that the delegation would stay in Moscow through July 5, causing many to question the authenticity of Daines’ tweets and photos that said he was enjoying Fourth of July fireworks at the U.S. Capitol building Wednesday evening.

“Two possibilities here: either he bailed on Moscow early and high tailed it back for a photo op or the fact that his 4th of July tweets don’t specifically say THIS 4th of July, he think [sic] it’s cool,” Schooley said in another tweet.

Marcie Kinzel, Daines’ communications director, told The Daily Caller News Foundation that Daines arrived back in D.C. just after 5 p.m. on July 4, in time to watch fireworks from the Capitol with his wife, Cindy. His first Fourth of July tweet was published at 5:37 p.m. and the fireworks started at about 9 p.m.

Daines then flew to Montana with Trump on Thursday, July 5, to attend the “Make America Great Again” rally in Great Falls.

Schooley later noted a tweet from Business Insider reporter Joe Perticone that said Daines left Russia early. Moynihan also corrected the record after TheDCNF reached out for comment. “Sen Daines was actually back in the US for firework celebrations,” he tweeted. “Mea culpa for suggesting otherwise.”

Daines also appeared on Fox News Thursday morning from Washington to discuss the meeting. “We sent a very strong message and a direct message to the Russian government,” he said. “First of all, don’t interfere in U.S. elections. Second, respect the sovereignty of Ukraine and exit Crimea. Third, work with us in bringing about peace in Syria instead of working against us.”

Lawmakers that attended the Moscow meeting faced criticism for spending Independence Day in Russia.

“On a day where America celebrates its independence from tyranny and the establishment of its democracy, Republicans broke with precedent to meet with a tyrannical regime that tried to undermine American democracy by meddling in the 2016 elections,” a post on ShareBlue said.

Shelby said at the meeting with Lavrov Tuesday that he hopes to repair the relationship between the two countries. “We come here realizing that we have a strained relationship, but we could have a better relationship between the U.S. and Russia because we have some common interests around the world that we could hopefully work together on,” he said.

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Emily Larsen

Fact Check Reporter