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

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeProfiles in cowardice: Trump's Senate enablers McSally concedes Arizona Senate race The Hill's Morning Report - ObamaCare front and center; transition standoff continues MORE (R-Ariz.) on Friday became the second Republican senator to break with President TrumpDonald John TrumpMinnesota certifies Biden victory Trump tells allies he plans to pardon Michael Flynn: report Republican John James concedes in Michigan Senate race 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 SasseBen SasseTrump transition order follows chorus of GOP criticism The Memo: Trump election loss roils right Whoopi Goldberg blasts Republicans not speaking against Trump: 'This is an attempted coup' MORE (R-Neb.) slammed Trump’s suggestion to reinstate Russia as a "weak" move.

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“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 SchumerChuck SchumerUS national security policy in the 117th Congress and a new administration Voters say Biden should make coronavirus vaccine a priority: poll New York City subway service could be slashed 40 percent, officials warn MORE (N.Y.).

Senate Democratic Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinWhitehouse says Democratic caucus will decide future of Judiciary Committee The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump OKs transition; Biden taps Treasury, State experience Durbin seeks to become top-ranking Democrat on Judiciary panel 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.