Trump asks Bolton to invite Putin to Washington in fall

2018-07-20 09:42:32Xinhua Editor : Gu Liping ECNS App Download

The White House said Thursday that U.S. President Donald Trump has asked an aide to invite his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to Washington this fall, despite mounting disturbance over the request of the Russian leader to interrogate former U.S. diplomats and rising domestic criticisms over Trump's performance in meeting Putin.


White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said Thursday that Trump has asked National Security Advisor John Bolton to invite Putin to Washington in autumn this year.

Trump had "agreed to ongoing working level dialogue between the two security council staffs," Sanders said via Twitter in Helsinki.

"President Trump asked @Ambjohnbolton to invite President Putin to Washington in the fall and those discussions are already underway," she added.

Earlier in the day, Trump tweeted that this meeting in Finland was "a great success," and he looks forward to their second meeting so as to "start implementing some of the many things discussed," including stopping terrorism, security for Israel, nuclear proliferation, cyber attacks, trade, Ukraine, Middle East peace and more.

He also lashed out at U.S. media for having reported his reconciliatory remarks in the July 16 meeting with Putin as a sign to side with Russia against U.S. intelligence community.

"The Fake News Media wants so badly to see a major confrontation with Russia, even a confrontation that could lead to war," Trump tweeted. "They are pushing so recklessly hard and hate the fact that I'll probably have a good relationship with Putin."

The remarks came amid the unrelenting domestic criticisms over Trump's performance in Helsinki. Several lawmakers have urged the interpreter of Trump in his one-on-one meeting with Putin to testify before Congress for what exactly the two leaders had said in the meeting.

Yet spokesperson Sanders said Wednesday that was "something that would go through the State Department."


The two sides of the aisle on Capital Hill have been increasingly enraged over the White House' ambiguity regarding Putin's request to interrogate several former U.S. diplomats, including former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul and his several colleagues, over their behaviors in Russia.

The Russian Prosecutor General's Office on Tuesday reportedly requested the questioning of several of these individuals.

The initiative was first voiced by Putin during his meeting with Trump.The White House was reported to be reviewing the demand.

Sanders said on Wednesday that "the president is going to meet with his team" over the issue and "there was some conversation about it, but there wasn't a commitment made on behalf of the United States" during the Trump-Putin meeting.

The possible decision to allow Russian investigators to question U.S. former diplomats has sparked further fury and suspicion on Capitol Hill. Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell was quoted by media as saying that if Trump allowed Russians to question McFaul, "you can count on me and millions of others to swiftly make you an ex-president."

Republican Senator Marco Rubio also urged the White House on twitter to "publicly & unequivocally rule it out."

For his part, McFaul tweeted earlier that he expects the U.S. government to defend him and his colleagues "in public and private."

Under mounting pressure, the White House on Thursday rejected Putin's request, saying it "is a proposal that was made in sincerity by President Putin" in his earlier meeting with Trump on July 16 in Finland, "but President Trump disagrees with it."

The White House's belated remarks was echoed by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said also on Thursday that Moscow's demand to interrogate U.S. citizens "is not going to happen."

"Make no mistake. President Trump understands that Russia does not share our interest in every place, and so he was very clear with Vladimir Putin about that," said Pompeo.

Despite all these assurance, the U.S. Senate still weighed in on this issue. Shortly after Sanders' statement, it passed unanimously a resolution -- with a 98:0 vote -- against allowing Russia to interrogate Americans.


Experts said that despite the invitation, Trump has apparently walked back his reconciliatory remarks on Russia's alleged meddling in 2016 elections for political considerations, which will make his efforts to get along with Russia more difficult.

Dan Mahaffee, senior vice president and director of policy at the Center for the Study of Congress and the Presidency, told Xinhua that "following tumultuous days in Europe, the summit between Presidents Trump and Putin resulted in one of the most surreal press conferences that an American president has ever delivered, and it only raised the profile of Russia-related scandals in U.S. domestic politics."

Noting that accusations of Russian meddling delegitimized Trump's election victory, the expert said Trump "continues to see it not as a matter of national security nor the legitimacy of our democracy, but, rather, as a personal insult."

While the details of the summit have still been sparse, "the real takeaway will be that President Trump equivocated when it came to weighing Russian statements and the advice of his own intelligence and foreign policy advisors," Mahaffee noted. "President Trump walked back his remarks, as we have repeatedly seen a divergence between his viewpoint on Russian meddling and the viewpoint of many establishment Republicans and GOP (the Republican Party) leaders."

Experts noted that while the GOP base supports Trump, the current chaos over Trump-Putin meeting does give pause to moderate Republicans and independents about this administration's competency and whether a change in control of Congress can provide a check or oversight of the Trump administration.

"The uproar makes any further measures by President Trump to reach out to Russia more difficult," said Mahaffee.

In the eyes of Lt. Col. Daniel Davis, a retired U.S. army officer and currently defense expert at Defense Priorities, a think tank, has said that "in regards U.S. interests, it is important not to focus too strongly on style over substance; personalities over policies."

Whatever Americans may think of Putin, "Russia is the only nation on earth that represents an existential nuclear threat to the United States, and must therefore be taken serious," he told Xinhua.

"Going forward, Trump needs to keep his focus on improving U.S. national security and economic prosperity in all future dealings with the Kremlin," he added.


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