TODAY   |  August 20, 2012

US pols under fire for reported Israel hijinks

Several House Republicans are drawing criticism after a reports surface of a night of carousing and skinny-dipping during a trip to Israel last year. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports.

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>>> let's turn to politics, high-profile distraction to the republican party . two congressman under fire, one for what he did, the other for what he said. two reports beginning with nbc's foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell . good morning.

>> good morning. a christian holy site where jesus was said to have walked on water. for a large group of republicans last year it was a setting for a night that included carousing and one congressman skinny dipping. the visit to israel by 30 members of congress, some with family members was sponsored and paid for by american israel education foundation , a nonprofit off shoot of the pro israel lobby apack. according to the mission statement these help educate political leaders and influentials about the importance of u.s.- israel relationship through firsthand experiences. almost a ago, august 18th , 2011 , 30 had a different experience. after a night of party 20 participants jumped into the sea of galilee . one kansas freshman kevin yoder swam nude.

>> at a time when people dislike, distrust congress anyway, here you have lawmakers, their aides in one of the most sensive parts ofhe world swimming in the sea of galilee , some in their underwear, one of them nude. some of the people even took a team picture afterwards.

>> nbc news confirmed eric cantor who was on the trip but not present for the hi jinx jas advertised them. a year ago my wife, brooke and i joined colleagues for dinner at the sea of galilee in israel . after dinner i followed some members of congress in a spontaneous and very brief dive into the sea. regrettably i jumped in without a swimsuit. it's my greatest honor to represent the people of kansas and congress and for any embarrassment i apologize. there was not illegal about the excursion. contrary to reports, the fbi did not investigate and would not have had any jurisdiction, but it is, of course, a potential embarrassment to a large group of house republicans about their behavior on a foreign trip. savannah.

>> all right. andrea mitchell in washington, thank you. missouri kong