Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines, following a five-day trip to Russia with fellow GOP lawmakers, told MTN News that the delegation delivered a “very direct message” to top Russian officials to stay out of future U.S. elections. Daines said the American delegation spoke with Russian lawmakers and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov about election interference and Russian actions in Ukraine, Crimea and the Syrian civil war. When asked why no Democratic lawmakers were invited, Daines said they felt the message on election interference would have more credibility and force coming from the GOP, instead of lawmakers whose emphasis on Russian influence in U.S. elections might be seen as more political. U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman spoke of the strained relationship with Russia, as President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are scheduled to meet on July 16 in Helsinki, Finland.

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