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McConnell: Russia should not be admitted to G-7

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Governors rethink opening bars, restaurants amid spike in COVID-19 cases | Spiking cases threaten fragile economic recovery | Supreme Court rules consumer bureau director can be fired at will Overnight Health Care: Supreme Court strikes down Louisiana abortion law | Governors rethink opening bars, restaurants amid COVID-19 spike | WHO director warns pandemic ‘speeding up’ OVERNIGHT ENERGY: White House threatens veto on Democrats’ .5 trillion infrastructure plan | Supreme Court won’t hear border wall challenge | Witnesses describe ‘excessive force’ used by law enforcement in Lafayette Square MORE (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday that Russia should not be readmitted to the Group of Seven (G-7), breaking with President TrumpDonald John TrumpTop intelligence officials release statements criticizing leaking of Russian bounties information Russian bounty intel was included in Trump’s daily briefing: reports Senators will have access to intelligence on Russian bounties on US troops MORE, who has repeatedly floated having Moscow attend the group’s summits. 

Asked if Russia should be let back into the economic group, McConnell told reporters: “Absolutely not.” 

Trump said late last month that he wanted to expand the group of countries that take part for the next meeting, including inviting Russia. The president spoke with Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinTrump faces bipartisan calls for answers on Russian-offered bounties Russia is testing Trump’s reactions Trump claims intel on Russian bounties was deemed not credible MORE earlier this month when, according to a White House readout, they “discussed progress toward convening the G7.”

Russia was ousted from the then-Group of Eight in 2014 to punish Moscow for annexing Crimea and supporting pro-Kremlin separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Trump’s warmer rhetoric toward Moscow has been a perennial headache for himself and Republicans. Congress passed new sanctions on Russia in 2017 despite pushback from the White House. 

McConnell previously said in 2018 that Russia should not be allowed back into the economic group after Trump floated allowing it back in. 

The relationship with Moscow is back in the spotlight in the wake of multiple reports that the U.S. intelligence community concluded months ago that a unit within the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency, secretly offered payments to Taliban-linked militants for attacks on coalition forces, including Americans, in Afghanistan last year.  

The New York Times reported on Friday administrations officials had deliberated potential response options, but the White House had not authorized any further action.

Trump defended his suggestion earlier this month that Moscow be allowed to attend the meeting, calling it “common sense.”

“It’s not a question of what he’s done, it’s a question of common sense,” Trump said. “We have a G-7, he’s not there. Half of the meeting is devoted to Russia and he’s not there.” 

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