WASHINGTON, D.C (The Hill) — President Trump has asked his national security adviser John Bolton to invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to Washington for a second summit.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that plans are underway for a second summit after Trump floated the news in an earlier tweet on Thursday.
“In Helsinki, @POTUS agreed to ongoing working level dialogue between the two security council staffs,” Sanders tweeted. “President Trump asked @Ambjohnbolton to invite President Putin to Washington in the fall and those discussions are already underway.”
Sanders’s tweet came three days after the two leaders held talks in Finland, igniting a political firestorm in the United States after Trump appeared to put equal weight in Putin’s denial of involvement in the 2016 election with the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia did interfere.
Since then, Trump and his aides have sought to walk back his comments in Helsinki. On Tuesday, the president insisted that he misspoke when he said that he saw no reason why Russia would meddle in U.S. political affairs, explaining that he meant to say he did not know why Moscow “wouldn’t” interfere.
He also insisted that he believed the assessment of the U.S. intelligence community that Russia meddled in the 2016 election – a remark that he appeared to undercut almost immediately by saying that it “could be other people also.”
He faced criticism again on Wednesday when he appeared to respond to a reporter’s question about whether Russia was still trying to interfere in U.S. political affairs with a blunt, “no.” Sanders later said that the president was declining to answer the question when he said “no,” and was not giving his opinion on the interference issue.
Despite the criticism swirling around his summit with Putin, Trump hailed the meeting on Thursday as a “great success” and said he wanted to meet with his Russian counterpart again so they could begin “implementing some of the many things discussed, including stopping terrorism, security for Israel, nuclear proliferation, cyber attacks, trade, Ukraine, Middle East peace, North Korea and more.”
The series of controversial statements and subsequent reversals from the president and the White House have continued to ripple through Washington. The notion that Trump could allow Americans to be interviewed by Russian authorities, for example, drew a rebuke from his own State Department and prompted Sanders to distance the president from the proposal on Thursday.
“It is a proposal that was made in sincerity by President Putin, but President Trump disagrees with it,” Sanders said.