McConnell: Putin 'will not be welcome' in Capitol
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellRepublicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves Graham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season MORE (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin will not be invited to the U.S. Capitol, as the White House is working to set up a second meeting between Trump and Putin in Washington, D.C.

"I can only speak for the Congress. The speaker and I have made it clear that Putin will not be welcome up here, at the Capitol," McConnell told reporters, asked about the White House's plan to invite Putin to the United States.


McConnell's comments come after his spokesman said last week that there were no plans to invite Putin to the Capitol if he comes to D.C.

House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanNo time for the timid: The dual threats of progressives and Trump Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power Cheney takes shot at Trump: 'I like Republican presidents who win re-election' MORE (R-Wis.) said separately on Tuesday that "we will certainly not be giving him an invitation to do a joint session."

Congressional leadership has previously extended invitations for foreign leaders traveling to Washington to visit Capitol Hill. French President Emmanuel Macron, for example, delivered an address before Congress during his trip to D.C. in April.

But the vocal opposition from GOP leadership to Putin visiting the Capitol marks another break between congressional Republicans and the White House when it comes to Russia.

Trump sparked widespread bipartisan backlash last week when he refused to condemn Russia's meddling in the 2016 election during a press conference with Putin in Helsinki.

"I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today," he told reporters during the press conference. "I will say this: I don't see any reason why it would be" Russia.

Trump tried to walk back his comments from the White House, saying he meant to say didn't see a reason it "wouldn't" be Russia. He added that he accepted the intelligence community's findings that Moscow interfered in the 2016 election.

But he appeared to reverse course over the weekend, calling Russia's election meddling a "big hoax." He added on Tuesday that Russia could meddle in the 2018 election but "will be pushing very hard for the Democrats.”

McConnell demurred on Tuesday when asked if he thought Trump's tweet was accurate but warned that Russia "better not" interfere in the upcoming midterm election.

"Well, I think we all know the Russian interfered in the last election. The question is are they going to do it again. ... The Russians better quit messing around in our elections. I want to make that perfectly clear," he said.

He added: "[Russia] did it the last time. They better not do it again."