Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., center, walks with members of Republican leadership, from left, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Senate Majority Whip Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, to speak to the media, Tuesday, July 24, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The Latest: McConnell says Putin unwelcome on the Hill

July 24, 2018 - 4:00 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump and Russian election interference (all times local):

3:55 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell distanced Republicans from President Donald Trump's invitation for Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit Washington.

McConnell said he and House Speaker Paul Ryan have made it clear that "Putin will not be welcome up here at the Capitol."

The Republican Senate leader also backed away from Trump's suggestion Tuesday that any potential Russian interference in the upcoming midterm elections would be to favor Democrats.

Instead, McConnell issued a warning, saying: "The Russians better quit messing around in our elections. I want to make that perfectly clear, the Russians better quit messing around in our elections."

He said he's considering legislation that would hit Russia with stiff sanctions if they try to influence the elections.

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1:25 p.m.

Two key senators are joining forces on bipartisan legislation to protect NATO and impose new sanctions on Russia after President Donald Trump's recent foreign trip, which included a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, and GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham issued a joint statement Tuesday as Congress struggles to respond to Trump's shifting views on Russian interference in U.S. elections.

The senators said the U.S. "must make it abundantly clear that we will defend our nation."

The bill would slap new sanctions on Russia and require a Senate vote for any proposal to withdraw the U.S. from NATO. It's being crafted after related proposals were blocked last week. GOP leaders called for hearings instead. Hearings are set to begin this week.

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1:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he's "very concerned" that Russia will try to meddle in November's midterm elections to help Democrats win.

Trump says in a tweet he's "very concerned that Russia will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming Election," but says: "they will be pushing very hard for the Democrats. They definitely don't want Trump!"

He doesn't explain his reasoning.

The U.S. intelligence community concluded Russia meddled in the 2016 election to try to help Trump win, and Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week at his joint press conference with Trump that he was rooting for the Republican.

The tweet is the latest example of Trump sowing doubts about the integrity of the U.S. electoral system. In 2016, he repeatedly claimed the election was "rigged."

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