U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told lawmakers that he’s confident President Donald Trump will tell Vladimir Putin election meddling is “unacceptable” just hours before the U.S. president suggested Russia didn’t do it.
Addressing lawmakers at a Senate subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, Pompeo said Trump will address Russia’s involvement in the 2016 U.S. election.
“I am confident, when the president meets with Vladimir Putin, he will make clear that meddling in our elections is completely unacceptable,” the secretary of state said.
Pompeo’s certainty comes less than 24 hours after the White House announced Trump will, in fact, meet with Putin during a summit in Helsinki on July 16.
WATCH: Trump, Putin to meet in Helsinki on July 16
“The two leaders will discuss relations between the United States and Russia and a range of national security issues,” the White House said in a statement.
Just before the summit announcement, Trump addressed Russia’s influence on the election.
“Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!” the president tweeted. “Where is the DNC Server, and why didn’t Shady James Comey and the now disgraced FBI agents take and closely examine it? Why isn’t Hillary/Russia being looked at? So many questions, so much corruption!”
On Wednesday, Trump said it was important for the U.S. to get along with Russia.
“I’ve said it from day one. Getting along with Russia and with China and with everybody is a very good thing,” Trump said Wednesday. “It’s good for the world. It’s good for us. It’s good for everybody.”
Trump has continually parroted the Kremlin’s denial of election interference, a move that has put him out of step with the findings of the U.S. intelligence community and nearly all Democrats and Republicans in Congress, who say there’s clear evidence of Russian efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.
WATCH: Putin welcomes Trump’s suggestion of rejoining G7
Also on Wednesday, Pompeo was asked about Trump’s assessment of North Korea no longer being a nuclear threat following the report of the North making “rapid” improvements to a nuclear research facility despite a pledge to denuclearize.
When asked by Democrat Senator Chris Van Hollen whether Pompeo agreed that the North poses a nuclear threat to the United States, the secretary of state said: “Oh, yes sir.”
“I’m confident what he intended there was, we did reduce the threat,” Pompeo responded. “I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. We took the tension level down. … I think his point was, for the moment, we have reduced risk.”
According to 38 North, a U.S.-based North Korea watchdog, satellite imagery captured on June 21 suggests the North is continuing to upgrade infrastructure at its Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center.
In 38 North’s latest analysis, the watchdog notes that the nuclear site’s plutonium production cooling system appears to have been completed while several buildings in and around the centre have been erected. However, the North Korean watchdog warned Tuesday that “continued work at the Yongbyon facility should not be seen as having any relationship to North Korea’s pledge to denuclearize.”
“The North’s nuclear cadre can be expected to proceed with business as usual until specific orders are issued from Pyongyang,” the watchdog noted.
Pompeo also said that the U.S. has not yet received the remains of Americans killed during the Korean War, even though Trump said last week some have returned the states.
“We are intent on denuclearization, make no mistake about it. But we are also for all the all the obvious reasons, intent on doing our best to get back as many remains for Americans or other foreigners there. As well, we’ve had other countries ask to participate in this, too,” Pompeo said. We are dogged in trying to facilitate this as quickly as we possibly can.”
When directly asked by Democrat Senator Jeanne Shaheen whether the U.S. has received any of the remains, Pompeo said: ”We have not yet physically received them.”