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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 ShelbyDisasters become big chunk of U.S. deficit Lawmakers, Wall Street shrug off Trump's escalating Fed attacks Florida politics play into disaster relief debate MORE (Ala.), Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesTrump administration could use military bases to export coal, gas McConnell: No one is going to beat Murkowski in Alaska Murkowski brushes off GOP backlash: 'I'm good with' Kavanaugh vote MORE (Mont.), John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Through a national commitment to youth sports, we can break the obesity cycle Florida politics play into disaster relief debate MORE (S.D.), John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (La.), Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranSenate Republicans demand Google hand over memo advising it to hide data vulnerability Overnight Defense — Presented by The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates — Missing journalist strains US-Saudi ties | Senators push Trump to open investigation | Trump speaks with Saudi officials | New questions over support for Saudi coalition in Yemen Senators demand answers on Trump administration backing of Saudi coalition in Yemen MORE (Kan.) and John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenTrump poised to sign bipartisan water infrastructure bill Overnight 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 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 TrumpTrump to fundraise for 3 Republicans running for open seats: report Trump to nominate former Monsanto exec to top Interior position White House aides hadn’t heard of Trump's new tax cut: 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.”