GOP senators visited Moscow on July 4, warned Russia against meddling in 2018 election: report

GOP senators visited Moscow on July 4, warned Russia against meddling in 2018 election: report
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A group of GOP lawmakers spent July 4 in Moscow after several days of meetings with Russian officials, according to NPR.

The group, which included seven Republican senators and one House member, was the first congressional delegation to visit Russia since the country’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

The GOP lawmakers, Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyCongress reaches deal to fund government through Dec. 7, preventing shutdown Senate approves first 2019 spending package GOP shrugs off Trump shutdown threat MORE (Ala.), Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesCongress passes bill to require Senate campaign filings to be made electronically Congress just failed our nation’s veterans when it comes to medical marijuana Sanders: Public should be ‘very concerned’ about election security in 2018 MORE (Mont.), John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneWant to improve health care? Get Americans off of their couches More Dems want focus on job creation than wage growth Google, Apple, Amazon execs to testify at Senate privacy hearing this month MORE (S.D.), John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (La.), Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranMcConnell: Sessions should stay as attorney general Tougher Russia sanctions face skepticism from Senate Republicans Farm groups fear Trump aid won’t fix trade damage MORE (Kan.) and John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenOvernight Energy: Trump Cabinet officials head west | Zinke says California fires are not 'a debate about climate change' | Perry tours North Dakota coal mine | EPA chief meets industry leaders in Iowa to discuss ethanol mandate 74 protesters charged at Capitol in protest of Kavanaugh Big Oil’s carbon capture tax credit betrayal MORE (N.D.), and Rep. Kay GrangerNorvell (Kay) Kay GrangerThe stakes are sky-high for the pro-life cause in the upcoming midterms Bipartisanship alive and well, protecting critical infrastructure McCarthy's path to Speaker gets more complicated MORE (R-Texas), spent July 4 in Moscow’s U.S. Embassy, NPR reported.

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The trip comes amid bilateral planning between the U.S. and Russia for next month’s sit-down between President TrumpDonald John TrumpLondon terror suspect’s children told authorities he complained about Trump: inquiry The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Trump to nominate retiring lawmaker as head of trade agency MORE and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump has said he will address Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election at the summit, in addition to Russia's military involvement in Syria and Ukraine.

The lawmakers reportedly discussed Russian influence in U.S. elections during their meetings over the past week, but Moran told The Associated Press that every Russian official they spoke to denied the Kremlin's involvement.

The group’s visit coincided with the release of a Senate Intelligence Committee report, which found that Russia backed Trump during the election.

The report, released Tuesday, confirmed conclusions by the U.S. intelligence community that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to help Trump win the White House.

“I think it’s a given in the United States, in both parties, that Russia tried to meddle and probably did meddle in the election,” Shelby told the AP.

The lawmakers did not meet with Putin, but offered a warning for Russia against meddling in the 2018 U.S. elections.  

“We made the point that if Russia persists in trying to influence our elections, it's going to be very difficult, if not impossible, for us to establish a better relationship,” Kennedy said to NPR.

“We didn't come here to say, what you've been doing is great, and we're going to look the other way,” Shelby told NPR. “We came here to talk candidly and honestly. The Russians can earn a better relationship with the U.S. if they want to.”