TOUGH TALK

Pompeo: I Warned Russian Officials Not to Meddle in U.S. Elections

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted Wednesday that he warned top Russian officials on several occasions that there would be “severe consequence” if they meddled in U.S. elections. “In Helsinki, we sought to explore whether Russia was interested in improving the relationship, but made clear that the ball is in Russia’s court,” he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “We defended America’s fundamental strategic interest in Syria and Ukraine, and I personally made clear to the Russians that there will be severe consequences for interference in our democratic processes.” Committee members pressed Pompeo for details about President Donald Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week. Committee chairman Bob Corker said at the meeting’s start that many senators had “serious doubts” about Trump’s foreign policy. Shortly before he testified, Pompeo issued a statement on Crimea, saying, “the United States rejects Russia’s attempted annexation of Crimea and pledges to maintain this policy until Ukraine’s territorial integrity is restored.” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova responded to Pomepo’s statement Tuesday, comparing it to the Iran deal and Paris climate agreement. “We know the value of these momentous declarations,” she said.