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Pompeo: I warned Russia about election meddling

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrives to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 25, 2018. | AP Photo

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he has personally told top Russian officials that there will be “severe consequences” for any interference in U.S. elections or the American democratic process.

Pompeo told skeptical members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday that he had made the warning clear to Russia in multiple meetings and conversations.

Pompeo made the comment in response to pointed questions about details of President Donald Trump’s one-on-one meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin last week in Finland. Both Republican and Democratic members of the committee demanded details from Pompeo about the summit for which the White House has offered only vague outlines.

Republican committee chairman Bob Corker opened the hearing by saying Pompeo was appearing before senators who have “serious doubts” of Trump and his foreign policy.

Pompeo says while the U.S. is engaged with “patient diplomacy” with North Korea, he pledged not to let negotiations “drag out to no end.”

He says the Trump administration’s goals on North Korea are unchanged and the “objective remains the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea as agreed to by Chairman Kim Jong Un.”

Pompeo has played a key role in recent talks between the U.S. and North Korea following Trump’s historic summit with Kim in Singapore last month.

In a statement released before the hearing, the State Department said the United States will never recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea and will continue to insist that Ukraine’s territorial integrity be restored.

Pompeo said the U.S. will hold to its long-standing principle of refusing to recognize Kremlin claims of sovereignty over territory seized by force, in violation of international law. He called for Russia to respect principles and “end its occupation of Crimea.”

Trump has previously suggested that U.S. opposition to Russia’s annexation of Crimea could be reconsidered.