Second GOP senator breaks with Trump on suggesting Russia rejoin G-7

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake donates to Democratic sheriff being challenged by Arpaio in Arizona The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says US-China trade talks to resume, hails potential trade with Japan, UK Joe Arpaio to run for Maricopa County sheriff in 2020  MORE (R-Ariz.) on Friday became the second Republican senator to break with President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump conversation with foreign leader part of complaint that led to standoff between intel chief, Congress: report Pelosi: Lewandowski should have been held in contempt 'right then and there' Trump to withdraw FEMA chief nominee: report MORE for saying that Russia should be invited back into the G-7, an influential group of Western economic powers and Japan.

“No, Russia should not be added to the G-7,” Flake wrote on Twitter, after Trump said Russia should again be a part of the group from which it was suspended in 2014.

Moments before, Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseManufacturing group leads coalition to urge Congress to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank The Hill's Morning Report - Trump ousts Bolton; GOP exhales after win in NC Trump endorses Sasse in 2020 race MORE (R-Neb.) slammed Trump’s suggestion to reinstate Russia as a "weak" move.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Putin is not our friend and he is not the president’s buddy. He is a thug using Soviet-style aggression to wage a shadow war against America, and our leadership should act like it,” said Sasse, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

Flake and Sasse are two of Trump's most frequent intraparty critics.

Trump caused waves before departing for the summit in Quebec by telling reporters at the White House that Russia should be at the negotiating table.

“Why are we having a meeting without Russia being in the meeting?” Trump told reporters at the White House before departing for the meeting.

“I would recommend — and it’s up to them, but Russia should be in the meeting, it should be a part of it," he said. “Whether you like it or not, and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run.” 

Russia was excluded from the group after it annexed Crimea, something that Western allies condemned as a brazen violation of international law.

Democrats also criticized Trump’s statement.

“President Trump is turning our foreign policy into an international joke, doing lasting damage to our country, without any rhyme or reason,” said Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer, Pelosi push Trump to back universal background check bill Sinema says she would back Kennedy in race against Markey Democrats threaten to withhold defense votes over wall MORE (N.Y.).

Senate Democratic Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinGOP's Kennedy sends warning shot to Trump nominee Menashi Senate Democrats block government spending bill Kavanaugh impeachment push hits Capitol buzz saw MORE (Ill.) contrasted Trump’s friendly treatment of Putin to his sharp-elbowed negotiations with Canada, Mexico and the European Union on trade.

“Now watch President Trump grovel at the feet of our adversary and punish our strongest allies,” Durbin tweeted.