Moran presses Russia on election meddling

photo by: Associated Press

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., left, and Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., chairman of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security, pose for a photo after speaking to the Associated Press in the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, July 4, 2018. A U.S. senator who is part of a congressional delegation visiting Russia says Moscow could help improve ties by not meddling in the midterm U.S. election in November. (AP Photo/Maria Danilova)

TOPEKA — U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, of Kansas, said Friday that he pressured Russian government officials about meddling in U.S. elections.

Moran was part of a Republican congressional delegation that traveled to Moscow over the July 4 holiday to meet with Russian officials in advance of President Donald Trump’s scheduled summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin July 16 in Helsinki.

“During our meetings in Moscow, we had frank discussions on a number of issues that have caused a drastic decline in bilateral cooperation,” Moran said in a statement Friday. “At each and every meeting, I made clear Russian interference in U.S. elections will not be tolerated and a thawing of relations can occur only if this and other behavior by the Russian government changes.”

“While I’m pleased this same message has been delivered by the administration, it is critical for leaders in Russia to understand the importance of Congress in foreign policy and its authority to protect our national interests alongside the president,” he said. “We traveled to Moscow to convey that Congress will continue its tough stance toward Russia — including maintaining sanctions — if their behavior remains unchanged.”

Other members of the delegation included Sens. Richard Shelby, of Alabama; Steve Daines, of Montana; John Hoeven, of North Dakota; Ron Johnson, of Wisconsin; John Kennedy, of Louisiana; John Thune, of South Dakota; and Rep. Kay Granger, of Texas.

The delegation’s trip to Russia coincided with the release of a report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on July 3 that supported intelligence agency findings that Putin himself had ordered an influence campaign in the 2016 presidential election that was designed to undermine public confidence in the democratic process, to undermine Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and to favor Republican Trump.

A separate House Intelligence Committee report, released April 27 and signed only by Republicans, said specifically that it found no evidence of collusion between the Russian interference operation and the Trump campaign.

Trump has adamantly denied there was any “collusion” between his campaign and the Russian government.

photo by: Associated Press

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, listens to U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., third right, during his meeting with U.S. congressional delegation as U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman Jr. attends the talks in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, July 3, 2018. The U.S. congressional delegation is scheduled to meet with senior Russian officials amid preparations for a summit between the nations’ presidents. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)


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