UPDATE: French Hill gets a prominent mention in Russian intrigue | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, July 20, 2017

UPDATE: French Hill gets a prominent mention in Russian intrigue

Posted By on Thu, Jul 20, 2017 at 7:26 PM

click to enlarge A RUSSIAN OFFER: Reported to have been made to French Hill.
  • A RUSSIAN OFFER: Reported to have been made to French Hill.
The lede of a Politico article on Russian intrigue is perhaps not an ideal place for Republican U.S. Rep. French Hill of Little Rock to find himself:
In the spring of 2016, a longtime Washington operative pulled aside French Hill during a trip to Moscow and introduced the conservative Arkansas congressman to two Russians who are now at the center of a firestorm over the activities of Donald Trump Jr.

In the brief encounter, which took place two months before their now-infamous meeting with the president’s son in Trump Tower, the jet-setting pair proposed the same trade they would soon be pitching all over Washington: Lift the sanctions on Russia, and we’ll make sure Americans can adopt Russian babies once again.

Paul Behrends, the operative who set up that previously unreported Moscow meeting [and now an aide to U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrbacher], has worked in security and foreign policy circles in Washington for decades while keeping a low profile, but he has never been far from intrigue.

... Behrends has been the chief Capitol Hill contact for the lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and the lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, a former Soviet intelligence officer, whose contacts with Trump Jr., along with Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, are now at the center of questions about whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

After arranging their impromptu meeting with Hill in Moscow, Behrends later escorted Akhmetshin around Capitol Hill—“almost by the hand” in the words of one congressional staffer—after the Moscow meeting last year, introducing him to lawmakers as part of an effort to undermine human rights legislation opposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, drawing on his significant experience and connections to give the Kremlin’s version of events a hearing.

The article says no more about Hill. We do know House Republicans came up with procedural objections to a Senate bill with sanctions for Russia. French Hill had been mentioned earlier in an extensive National Review report that included a reference to the Russian junket,

This is not just about adoptions of babies. It's about murder, money and intrigue of the highest order. French HIll may only be an innocent bystander in meeting key players. But there are perhaps better junkets to join than those including Rohrbacher.

I've sent an e-mail to Hill asking if the account of the meeting is accurate, what his response, if any, was, and where he stands today on Russian sanctions.pbb

UPDATE: Hill's current flack wrote this morning to ask if I'd really sent an email. I had. Complete with required 9-digit ZIP code. I repeated the questions. And did so again to 2 different addresses for the flack. No response. I take it French Hill has joined Tom Cotton in refusing to provide taxpayer-paid press services to a district business and registered voter. What are you hiding?

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