Trump invites Putin to Washington

Ruben Hill
July 22, 2018

Earlier on Monday, Trump had endorsed Putin's stance on Russia's non-involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, insisting that he ran a clean campaign.

Trump told CNBC in an interview airing Friday he had been "far tougher on Russia" than possibly any US president, ever, pointing to his recent attack on Germany for their proposed second natural gas pipeline deal with Russian Federation.

"Trump has faced intense scrutiny for his handling of Russian Federation this past week, after he sided with Putin's denials of election interference during a press conference in Helsinki, Finland", The Hill's Jacqueline Thomsen noted.

Speaker Paul Ryan declared there was "no question" Russian Federation had interfered in the U.S. election.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Putin critic, tweeted after the exchange that he'd have the ball checked for listening devices and "never allow it in the White House".

"I don't know what happened in that meeting", Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said. "So, certainly as the leader of a country you would have to hold him responsible, yes".

The US president had initially described the proposal as an "incredible offer".

Putin pitched the idea that the USA could question the 12 Russian military officials indicted for hacking into the Democratic presidential campaign.

Within hours, Democrats and Republicans, pundits, intelligence officials, and others were condemning the remarks.

Trump referenced Obama's hot mic moment in 2012 where he told then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he would have more "flexibility" after his election was over, calling Obama's statement "stupid".

In turn, national security experts said, Putin played Trump like a fiddle.

Just a day earlier, the White House had said the offer was under consideration, even though the State Department called Russia's allegations against the Americans, including former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, "absurd". Senior Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham said Trump's answer on meddling "will be seen by Russian Federation as a sign of weakness".

A short time later, the White House made another announcement revealing that President Putin had been invited to visit Washington in the autumn.

He said it was "the president's prerogative" to keep his discussions with Putin to himself.

The reporter asked again, and Trump said "no" again.

Another former Trump administration official told Business Insider that at the moment, the person within the White House who has the most influence with Trump in regards to advice on how to handle such a crisis is Bill Shine, the former Fox News executive who was recently hired as deputy chief of staff for communications.

Trump allegedly agreed to consider it, but asked the Russian leader to keep deliberations on this issue confidential. I don't think there's ever one single person that he relies on.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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