Speed Reads

Things that make you go hmmmm

A GOP senator posted photos of himself enjoying D.C.'s July 4th fireworks. He's supposed to be in Russia.

Seven Republican senators and one GOP congresswoman have been in Russia, meeting with Russian officials, since June 30. On Tuesday, they sat down with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow. "We come here realizing that we have a strained relationship, but we could have a better relationship between the U.S. and Russia," Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) told Lavrov. "We are competitors, but we don't necessarily need to be adversaries." Shelby added that he hopes the July 16 summit between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin "will be the beginning, maybe, of a new day."

Oddly, the Republican lawmakers were extending an olive branch to Russia on the same day the GOP-led Senate Intelligence Committee released a report accusing the Kremlin of working during the 2016 election to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Trump win. Most of the senators, scheduled to return July 5, posted patriotic Fourth of July images to their Twitter accounts Wednesday — Shelby, John Kennedy (R-La.), John Thune (R-S.D.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), and Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) — with no mention of where they were spending America's Independence Day. But Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) posted three photos of him and his wife in Washington, proclaiming it a "treat to be in DC to celebrate the 4th and watch some great fireworks!"

Several people noticed this "really weird" discrepancy, and producer Robert Schooley proposed two explanations:

It's probably the former, but the whole thing is pretty strange. Peter Weber

Update July 5, 3:30 p.m.: Business Insider has confirmed that it was indeed the former: "Daines departed Russia earlier than his colleagues and returned to Washington before trekking back to his home state of Montana, where Trump is holding a campaign rally [Thursday] night. An aide to Daines confirmed the trip details to Business Insider." Mystery solved!