WASHINGTON – Unbowed by swirling criticism of his summit meeting with Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump, quickly invited the Russian leader to the White House this fall for a second get-together. The clean-up of the first is continued without interruption, and Trump let decided Putin “incredible offer” of shared U.S.-Russia research was not good.
A White House meeting would be a dramatic extension of legitimacy to the Russian leader, who has long been isolated from the West for the activities in Ukraine, Syria and elsewhere and is believed to have influenced the 2016 presidential election and that Asset of the presidency. No Russian leader has visited the White House in nearly a decade.
Trump asked the National security adviser John Bolton to invite Putin, and “that discussions are already under way,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday. Trump had previously tweeted that he looked forward to “our second meeting,” as he defended his performance on Monday is top, in which the two leaders conferred on a range of issues such as terrorism, the Israeli security, nuclear proliferation and North Korea.
“There are a lot of answers, some easy and some difficult, to these problems … but they can ALL be solved!” Trump tweeted.
There was no immediate reaction from the Kremlin to the invitation.
News of the invitation appeared to catch even the president of the top intelligence official surprise.
“Say that again,” National Intelligence Director Than Layers responded, when informed of the invitation during a performance at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado.
“OK,” he continued, with a pause for a deep breath. “That’s going to be special.”
The announcement came as the White House sought to clean up days of disruptive post-top Trump statements about the Russian interference in the 2016 election. Trump’s public doubting of Russia’s responsibility in a joint press conference with Putin on Monday has provoked withering criticism of Republicans as well as Democrats, and forced the president to a rare public admission of error.
Then on Thursday, the White House said Trump “disagree” with Putin’s offer to allow AMERICAN survey of 12 Russians who have been indicted for the election of interference in exchange for Russian interviews with the former AMERICAN ambassador in Russia and other Americans the Kremlin accuses of not further specified offences. Trump initially had the idea as an “incredible offer.”
The White House came back just before the Senate voted against the proposal. It was Congress’ first formal rebuke of Trump’s actions of the summit and the aftermath.
Asked about the Putin invitation, Alaska Republican Sen. Then Sullivan said, “I wouldn’t do it, that is absolutely for sure.”
“If the Russians want a better relationship, trips to the White House is not going to help,” he added. “They should stop the invasion of their neighbors. They should stop meddling with the elections.”
Mixed messages of Trump have increased concern in Congress that the White House is not taking seriously the threat that senior officials say that Russia is now forming for the upcoming 2018 midterm elections.
Democrats in the House sought Thursday to extend a state grant program for election to the security, but was blocked by the Republicans. There is $380 million approved in the current budget for the program, which is intended to aid member states to strengthen election systems to hacking and other cyber-attacks.
Democratic lawmakers broke out in chants of “USA! USA!” during the debate,
For Putin’s offer on the investigation, Sanders was “made in sincerity” and the U.S. hopes that he will have the accused Russians, “come to the United States to prove that their innocence or guilt.”
Just a day earlier, the White House had said that the offer was under consideration, although the State Department called Russia’s accusations at the address of the Americans, including former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, was “absurd.”
Secretary of state Mike Pompeo said Thursday of the proposed Russian trial, “That’s not going to happen.”
“The government is not going to send, the power of Americans traveling to Russia to be interrogated by Vladimir Putin and his team,” Pompeo said in an interview with The Christian Broadcasting Network.
Senate Republicans joined Democrats in the quick passing of a resolution, 98-0, the Senate against the questioning of American officials by a foreign government.
The republican leader of the Senate Mitch McConnell in the hastily arranged vote as lawmakers unleashes an avalanche of resolutions and other proposed actions to express alarm about Trump’s meeting with Putin and the White House over the shifting of the reaction.
Coats said Thursday he wished the president had not undermined the conclusions of the American intelligence services, standing next to Putin, and felt that it was his duty to correct the record. He applied the U.S. intelligence assessment about Russian interference and Moscow’s “ongoing, in-depth attempts to undermine our democracy.”
While they had met privately on three occasions in 2017, a Trumpet and opened the door to a possible White House meeting with Putin earlier this year. The Kremlin said in April that the president had invited the Russian leader to the White House when they spoke by phone in March. At the time, White House officials worked to convince a skeptical president that the Nordic capital would serve as a more effective backdrop — and warned of a storm must be a West Wing meeting to go ahead.
Still, Trump has expressed a preference for the White House setting for important meetings, including floating an invitation to Washington for North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un after their meeting in Singapore last month.
Putin would be setting foot in the building for the first time in more than a decade.
He visited the White House in 2005, when he met President George W. Bush, who welcomed the Russian leader in the East Room as “my friend.”
President Barack Obama welcomed the then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to the White House in 2010, and took him on a hamburger, at a joint just outside the capital.
The idea for another summit with Putin comes as Congress wrestles with a response to the first, and Thursday brought a flurry of actions as legislators tried to find out details of what happened in Helsinki.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said that it is what happens “if the war on objective reality, for almost two solid years, the calling of real things fake and fake things are real.”
Putin, in his first public comments about the summit, told Russian diplomats that U.S.-Russian relations are “in some ways worse than during the Cold War”, but that the meeting with Trump allowed a start on “the path to positive change.”
“We will see how things develop,” Putin said, referring to unnamed “forces” in the US, trying to prevent any improvement in relations and “putting narrow party interest above the national interest.”
Meanwhile, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said that she still has not seen evidence that Moscow was trying to help to choose Asset. She said at the Aspen Forum that Russia is an attempt to “cause chaos on both sides.”
Associated Press writers Deb Riechmann in Aspen, Colorado, and Mary Clare Jalonick and Matthew Daly, Tami Abdollah, Darlene Superville and Susannah George Washington contributed to this report.
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This story has been corrected to show the vote now underway, it cannot be cancelled.