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 ShelbyMeet Trump's most trusted pollsters Contractors fight for pay from last shutdown — and the next one Trump signs stopgap measure, funding government through November MORE (Ala.), Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesFallout from Kavanaugh confirmation felt in Washington one year later Conservatives offer stark warning to Trump, GOP on background checks The 23 Republicans who opposed Trump-backed budget deal MORE (Mont.), John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneImpeachment threatens to drown out everything Republicans show signs of discomfort in defense of Trump   Embracing President Mike Pence might be GOP's best play MORE (S.D.), John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (La.), Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranMcConnell signaling Trump trial to be quick, if it happens Overnight Defense — Presented by Huntington Ingalls Industries — Furor over White House readout of Ukraine call | Dems seize on memo in impeachment push | Senate votes to end Trump emergency | Congress gets briefing on Iran Senate again votes to end Trump emergency declaration on border wall MORE (Kan.) and John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenBottom Line Poll: McConnell is most unpopular senator McConnell ups pressure on White House to get a budget deal MORE (N.D.), and Rep. Kay GrangerNorvell (Kay) Kay GrangerCongress hunts for offramp from looming shutdown fight House votes to avert shutdown, fund government through November Lobbying world 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 TrumpBusiness school deans call for lifting country-specific visa caps Bolton told ex-Trump aide to call White House lawyers about Ukraine pressure campaign: report Federal prosecutors in New York examining Giuliani business dealings with Ukraine: report 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.”