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Smiling Nancy Pelosi caught in photo with Putin's right-hand man


House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, who has demanded the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions for meeting with the Russian ambassador while a member of Congress, herself met with Vladimir Putin's right-hand man in Washington in 2010 while President Obama was in power.

Pelosi hosted then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the U.S. Capitol, at a time when concerns about Russia's human rights continued to persist, especially in the liberal wing of her party.

Medvedev, a protege of Putin, proclaimed he was bringing more openness and tolerance to Russia when he took power but human rights activists repeatedly flagged concerns that the reality on the ground in Russia did not meet his rhetoric.

Human Rights Watch, one of the premier experts on the issue, reported in 2010 that little had changed on Russia's record.

"In 2010 Russia demonstrated increased openness to international cooperation on human rights, but the overall human rights climate in the country remained deeply negative," the group reported. "President Dmitry Medvedev's rhetorical commitments to human rights and the rule of law have not been backed by concrete steps to support civil society." 

Medvedev's and Putin's record of governance has even drawn criticism from Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader and a champion of normalizing Western relations.

Gorbachev was quoted in 2011 as saying he was "ashamed" of his country's rulers, citing concerns about bullyism and corruption.

Earlier in the day, the Democrat said at a Politico event she had not met with the current Russian ambassador.

When asked for comment a spokesperson for Pelosi pointed to this tweet.

Photographs readily available on the Associated Press' wire show the California Democrat met with former Russian president at the Capitol.

Pelosi called for Attorney General Sessions to resign for meeting with the Russian ambassador, Sergei Kislyak, in 2016 while he was a Senator. Sessions has defended the meeting as a part of his job as a Senator on the Senate Armed Forces Committee.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev speaks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif. before a private meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington Thursday, June 24, 2010. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

The Pelosi photos are a stark reminder that members of Congress routinely meet with foreign leaders, including those who often are at odds with the U.S. on certain issues.

Sessions met with the Ukrainian ambassador the day before his meeting with the Russian ambassador. Sessions told reporters that he does not recall if the election came up during the meeting, but that the election was not the purpose of the meeting. Though Sessions does recall in getting in a back and forth with the Russian over the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Democrats have called for Sessions to withdraw, but Sessions has remained steadfast only saying that he will recuse himself from any investigations into the Trump campaign.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev speaks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif. and prepares to sign a guest book, before a private meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington Thursday, June 24, 2010. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) who has also called for Sessions to resigned, met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2003 something President Donald Trump brought to light on Twitter. 

See Trump's tweet.

Schumer defended his meeting with Putin on Twitter.

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