President Trump has asked his national security adviser, John Bolton, to extend the invitation for a “working level” dialogue between the two leaders.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders says Mr Trump asked National Security Adviser John Bolton to invite Mr Putin ‘to Washington in the fall and those discussions are underway ’
The invitation comes just days after the president met the Russian leader in Helsinki Monday and drew sharp bipartisan criticism for not publicly confronting Putin about Russian interference in the 2016 election during their press conference, and for casting doubt on the conclusion of the U.S. intelligence community that Putin had ordered it.
Mr Trump was roundly criticised by Democrats and Republicans in Washington for siding with the Russian leader over US intelligence reports that Moscow interfered in the 2016 presidential election. The president has had to reverse or clarify his comments a number of times since, amplifying the fallout from his joint press conference alongside Mr Putin. There have also been concerns in Congress about the private nature of the one-on-one meetings between Mr Trump and Mr Putin
Putin said that should be in exchange for special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is allowed to work with Russian investigators to question the 12 Russians indicted in the election interference investigation. At the summit, Trump called it “an incredible offer.”
Thursday’s development was just the latest example of the president walking back comments related to the summit.
When Report Focus News reporter asked the president on Wednesday, “Is Russia still targeting the U.S., Mr President?” Trump replied, “Thank you very much, no” and confirmed his answer when Vega followed up.
Later Wednesday, Sanders suggested an alternate meaning to the president’s “no,” suggesting he was refusing to take questions about the topic.
While the White House said nothing about the exact timing being discussed about a second meeting, the president, pushing back on criticism that he had looked weak compared to Putin at the Helsinki summit, said in a tweet Thursday morning that he was “looking forward” to another encounter.
The last official visit by a Russian president to the United States was in June 2010, when Dmitri Medvedev, now Russian prime minister, visited the United States.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer issued a statement reflecting Democratic demands that lawmakers be told more about what happened during Trump’s private meeting with Putin.
“Until we know what happened at that two-hour meeting in Helsinki, the president should have no more one-on-one interactions with Putin. In the United States, in Russia, or anywhere else,” Schumer said.
A spokesperson for Mr Trump’s national security council told CNN the office was still “reviewing the discussion” between the leaders. The spokesperson added: “The Helsinki summit was the beginning of a process between the US and Russia to reduce tensions and advance areas of cooperation in our mutual interest.”
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