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Republican group slams Trump over Ukraine, G7 in new ads

By Amanda Becker
U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Dallas, Texas

By Amanda Becker

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A conservative group that has frequently criticized President Donald Trump is running two television and digital ads that accuse him of using the Oval Office for personal profit and calls on his fellow Republicans to condemn the solicitation of foreign interference in U.S. elections.

After the White House announced on Thursday that the 2020 G7 summit of world economic leaders will be held at Trump's Doral Resort, which has suffered financially during his presidency, Republicans for the Rule of Law released an ad accusing Trump of using his office for personal enrichment.

The anti-Trump group, formed mainly of traditionally Republican lawyers, describes itself as "life-long Republicans dedicated to defending the institutions of our republic and upholding the rule of law."

Its legal advisory board includes a former U.S. solicitor general to Republican President Ronald Reagan and a former U.S. senator from Washington state. One of the founders is Bill Kristol, former editor of the conservative "Weekly Standard."

The G7 ad will air on Monday during the "Fox & Friends" TV program in the Washington, D.C., region - which is frequently watched by the president - and also on various digital platforms, the group said.

Also this week, the group aired a series of ads related to Trump's communications with leaders in Ukraine and China on "Fox & Friends" and "Special Report with Bret Baier" in the congressional districts of 15 Republicans potentially vulnerable in the November 2020 elections.

The $1 million ad campaign is also being targeted at voters represented by 12 Republican senators, including Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, a moderate who has been a key swing vote on some legislation.

The group supported the probe of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with Trump's campaign. It has frequently run related ads antagonizing the president.

The latest ad encourages Republicans to speak out about Trump pressuring foreign adversaries to do his "political dirty work" by asking them to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Trump's interactions with the two governments, and whether he withheld aid to Ukraine, are now part of an ongoing U.S. House of Representatives impeachment probe. Trump has said he spoke to the leaders about Biden but denies wrongdoing.

Spokesman Chris Truax said "honest Republicans will say publicly what they believe privately" and "they must tell President Trump" they condemn foreign election interference.


(Reporting by Amanda Becker; Editing by Howard Goller)