Pence Warns Of Russian Election Meddling After Trump Pushes For Country's G-7 Return

The vice president urged vigilance ahead of elections in the U.S. and Poland, in an attempt to assure the European ally that Washington takes the matter seriously.

Vice President Mike Pence on Monday warned against election interference at the hands of Russians shortly after President Donald Trump renewed his call for the nation to be readmitted to the Group of 7.

“With its efforts to meddle in elections across Europe and around the world now is the time for us to remain vigilant about the intentions and the actions being taken by Russia,” Pence said at joint news conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda in Warsaw, Reuters reported.

Pence, who is wrapping up a two-day stay in the city, attempted to dispel any potential doubts from Poland over whether the U.S. is committed to safeguarding its ally from election meddling. Trump has failed to treat the issue seriously despite findings from the U.S. intelligence community indicating Russia played a role in the 2016 presidential election. Poland is preparing for parliamentary elections in October.

Trump told reporters at the White House last month that he would support Russia rejoining the G-7, a stance other countries don’t share.

“I think it’s much more appropriate to have Russia in,” he said, echoing remarks he made last year. “It should be the G-8, because a lot of the things we talk about have to do with Russia.”

Trump then added that “if somebody would make that motion” to welcome back Russia, “I would certainly be disposed to think about it very favorably.”

Vice President Mike Pence during joint press statements with Polish President Andrzej Duda after their meeting in Warsaw, Poland, on Monday.
Vice President Mike Pence during joint press statements with Polish President Andrzej Duda after their meeting in Warsaw, Poland, on Monday.
AP Photo/Petr David Josek

According to Reuters, Duda expressed reluctance at the prospect during his briefing with Pence, raising concerns over whether relations with Russia could be reestablished at this point.

“Unfortunately, over the last several years, Russia has taken actions which cannot be ignored by anyone who respects international law,” Duda said. “In this context we need to ask ourselves whether this means we can approach Russia in a business as usual way.”

During a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin last year, Trump infamously questioned whether the country had actually meddled in the 2016 presidential election. He later attempted to walk back his comments and offer support for U.S. intelligence agencies.

In June, at the G-20 summit in Japan, Trump indicated that he was still taking the matter lightly, jokingly telling Putin to keep out of the 2020 election.

“Don’t meddle in the election,” he said, smiling at Putin and wagging his finger. Putin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was also present and seated nearby, both chuckled.

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