Mitch McConnell split with President Trump Tuesday on whether Russia should be allowed back into the G-7 — roundly rejecting the move, which has been repeatedly pitched by the commander in chief.
“Absolutely not,” the Senate majority leader told reporters at the Capitol.
Trump said last month that he wanted to expand the number of countries that take part in the next meeting, including Russia, which had been bounced by the Group of Eight after invading and annexing Crimea in 2014 and backing rebels in eastern Ukraine.
The president spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin this month, and according to a White House readout, they “discussed progress toward convening the G-7.
McConnell (R-Ky.) had already said in 2018 that Russia should not be allowed back in after Trump floated allowing it back in, and many Democrats agreed.
Trump called it “common sense” to invite Russia given that the country is generally among the topics discussed by member nations.
“It’s not a question of what he’s done, it’s a question of common sense,” Trump said about Putin.
“We have a G-7, he’s not there. Half of the meeting is devoted to Russia and he’s not there.”
Trump had also said he would postpone a G-7 summit he had hoped to hold this summer until September or later and expand the list of invitees to include Australia, Russia, South Korea and India.
“I’m postponing it because I don’t feel that as a G-7 it properly represents what’s going on in the world,” Trump said, adding that the current members — including most major US allies — were a “very outdated group of countries.
McConnell’s comment came after reports that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to militants in Afghanistan for killing coalition and Americans forces.
The Kentucky Republican downplayed those reports.
“It appears as if this is not a conclusion that’s been reached to such a level that might have even made it to the top,” McConnell told reporters about the US intelligence findings and whether Trump was aware of them.