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WATCH LIVE: LEWANDOWSKI QUESTIONED AT IMPEACHMENT HEARING

Mattis Tells CNN’s Tapper That Russia is a Threat to U.S.: ‘They’ve Mucked Around in Our Elections’

Former Defense Secretary James Mattis again played his cards close to the chest in a CNN interview, but called out Russia for meddling in U.S. elections — something the president has infamously hesitated to do.

Mattis spoke with CNN anchor Jake Tapper on The Lead Thursday, where he spoke mainly about his book Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead. But Tapper also asked Mattis to comment on his resignation letter warning of Russia’s influence campaign on the global stage.

“You include your resignation letter to President Trump in the book,” Tapper noted. “And in the letter, you note that you think that Russia wants to shape a world based on authoritarianism, at the expense of the United States and U.S. interests and allies. Do you think Russia should be permitted back into the G-7?”

Mattis declined to comment on the G-7 issue, but commented on Russian President Vladimir Putin by saying “we’ll have to deal with the Putin that is, not the Putin we wanted.”

“I remember in the 1990s, when Russian Marines and U.S. Marines trained together in North Carolina for peacekeeping operations. Those days are long past now. We’re going to have to recognize they’ve mucked around in our elections, that they’ve invaded two countries in seized territory,” he continued.

“And we’re going to have to deal with it and the only way to deal with it is with allies,” Mattis said.

During the interview, Mattis again insisted he would not directly criticize President Donald Trump, as has become a signature of his recent media hits.

Watch above, via CNN.

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