Trump ally Franklin Graham met with sanctioned Russians to discuss ‘U.S.-Russia relations’

So a Franklin Graham effort to improve relations between sanctioned Russian leaders and an angry U.S. Congress—translated, a Franklin Graham effort aimed at negotiating an end to U.S. sanctions imposed under the Magnitsky Act, already the subject of multiple meetings between Trump campaign officials and Russian cut-outs during and after the 2016 elections—ends up being “fully supported” by Vice President Mike Pence.

Who, if we’re going to be all pedantic and nosy about this, got his vice presidential slot due to the machinations of Trump campaign head Paul Manafort, a man currently in prison for his actions on behalf of pro-Russian foreign entities and the efforts to cover those ties up, caught up in a federal probe of whether Russian espionage efforts aimed at boosting Trump’s election chances were known or assisted by other members of Trump’s inner circle.

As easy as it is to say that being obliged to meet with the ultimate American faux-Christian con artist is more punishment than privilege and leave it at that, there’s a backstory here that we’re not getting. Conservative and evangelical efforts to redeem the Russian kleptocracy have been going strong for a decade, to be sure, but the notion of tele-shouter Franklin Graham jetting off to patch relations with Russia on behalf of the U.S. Congress, with no apparent input from that Congress itself, is a bit much.

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