Sergey Kislyak, the flamboyant #Russian ambassador to America is known for his social prowess. He is likely to debate fiercely with his American opponents on matters of grave international importance, and then suggest eating dinner afterward.

Case in point: he threw a prodigal dinner party to toast the new American envoy to Russia, Michael McFaul. The lavish affair took place in Kislyak's Beaux-Arts mansion that happens to be four blocks from the White House. Mr McFaul, talking to the New York Times, described it as an “over-the-top, extraordinary dinner,” with five courses of haute Russian fusion fare for fifty guests.

And those fifty guests were all government officials cozily involved in helping to formulate Russia policy for Obama's office. There were even figures from both the #Defense and State Departments in attendance.

“I admired the fact that he was trying to reach deep into our government to cultivate relations with all kinds of people,” Mr. McFaul said of the 2011 party that so impressed him. “I was impressed by the way he went about that kind of #socializing, the way he went about entertaining, but always with a political objective.”

Social, impressive, charismatic – and now apparently controversial

In fact, #Mr Kislyak’s social and networking success has placed him in a tangled web of controversy that has earned inches of newspaper columns and the fury of politicians.

The fracas has made him the most conspicuous, and politically explosive, ambassador in Washington.

Last week the second adviser from Trump's administration got into trouble when it was discovered that he failed to expose his conversations with Kislyak As a result, #Jeff Sessions has recused his role in the Russian election-tampering investigation; many members of the House and Senate are calling for him to quit.

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Nancy Pelosi charged that he should step down, claiming that the Republicans were willing to lie to stay in power, whilst Norma Kamal said that she too wanted Sessions to quit immediately.

And only weeks earlier, #Michael Flynn was forced to quit as the national security adviser, amidst a major uproar that was an embarrassment for Trump and his newly formed administration.

Today the New York Times reported that Mr Kislyak also met with Trump's son-in-law and adviser #Jared Kushner during the transition at the White House.

A career diplomat raised in the restrictive Soviet era, Kislyak, 66, may seem an improbable character in such a heated drama. He has been involved with American officials on both sides of the political spectrum for decades and has been known as a familiar face in the Washington scene. Some have described him as jowly and affable with a warm smile, and yet he can be fierce when advocating #Russia’s vigorous policies and objectives.

He has frequented think tanks to discuss weapons and arms control issues, where he unapologetically defend Russia’s much-criticized intrusion into Ukraine.

He was also known to attack #Americans for what he saw as their hypocrisy in international diplomacy and aggression – and then he'd be happy to sit down with his opponent and suggest a sit-down dinner.

“Not all of us, myself included, initially appreciated his very tough, in-your-face style,” Dimitri Simes, president of the Center for the National Interest, told the New York Times.

Diplomats and politicians mix and mingle

Simes introduced Trump to Kislyak last April at a speech his center hosted at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington. Kislyak noted that Sessions was there but couldn't ascertain if they actually spoke.

Last November Kislyak defended his meetings with #American officials at Stanford University when he was asked about allegations of Russian meddling in the elections. He echoed the Russian government’s stance that it wasn’t involved in hacking. It is natural, he claimed, for diplomats to attend political events where they mix with other candidates.