Report: McCaskill Attended Black-Tie Dinner at Russian Ambassador's Residence in 2015

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill
U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill / Getty Images
June 26, 2017

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) blamed Twitter in a recent interview for why she did not disclose that she attended a black-tie reception at the residence of Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

McCaskill tweeted back in March that she never called or met with Kislyak.

"I've been on the [Senate Armed Services Committee] for 10 years. No call or meeting w/ Russian ambassador. Ever. Ambassadors call members of [Senate Foreign Relations Committee]," she wrote.

This turned out to be false, however. Two of McCaskill's old tweets indicated that she was "Off to meeting w/Russian Ambassador," and that she was on a call with Kislyak.

It has now been revealed that "McCaskill spent an evening at a black-tie reception at the ambassador's Washington residence in November 2015," according to CNN:

McCaskill was photographed at the event, honoring former Democratic Rep. James Symington, who hails from her state of Missouri and worked to promote US-Russia relations.

In an interview, McCaskill acknowledged attending the dinner, but she said she only did so because of her long-standing relationship with Symington, whom she said "kind of got me started in politics." She claimed the 140-character limit on Twitter did not let her clarify that she never met "one-on-one" with the Russian ambassador, and added she "did not" speak with Kislyak at the reception.

McCaskill, who is one of the most vulnerable Democrats up for reelection next year, conceded she should have exercised more caution in her initial tweet.

"I should've been careful about the 140 characters and given it context," McCaskill said. "But it's not the first or the last time my tweets will get me in trouble."

The controversy over McCaskill's tweets began after Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not disclose multiple meetings with Kislyak during the 2016 campaign season while he was going through confirmation proceedings for attorney general.

Sessions defended his meetings by saying that they were not campaign-related and that they occurred in his capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. McCaskill then responded with the aforementioned tweet about members of the Armed Services Committee not meeting with the Russian ambassador, according to CNN:

Asked about the discrepancy at the time, McCaskill claimed that her meeting with the Russian ambassador was part of a larger meeting with a group of senators and that her phone call was a brief one about the nuclear deal.

And in an interview last week with CNN, she also made a similar distinction in explaining her presence at the Russian ambassador's home in 2015.

"So on those two occasions, I was in the presence of the Russian ambassador, was in the same place I was, but never did he come to my office, never did he request a meeting with me, never did I have a meeting with him as a member of the Armed Services Committee," McCaskill said. "140 characters were my enemy there because Jeff Sessions was giving the impression that these were part of his—part and parcel of his duty on the Armed Services Committee."