WASHINGTON – Discussions are underway for Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit Washington this fall, the White House said Thursday – even as it continued to face a backlash on Capitol Hill for its handling of the summit with Putin in Helsinki this week.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday that the follow-up meeting was intended to continue “an ongoing working level dialogue between the two security council staffs.”
President Donald Trump has asked his national security adviser, John Bolton, to extend the invitation, she said.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer immediately denounced the planned meeting.
“Until we know what happened at that two hour meeting in Helsinki, the president should have no more one-on-one interactions with Putin,” he said. “In the United States, in Russia, or anywhere else.”
News of the second summit came as Trump received an extraordinary rebuke from Congress for the way he handled the first summit in Helsinki Monday. By a vote of 98-0, the Senate approved a non-binding resolution that the United States should refuse to cooperate with the Kremlin on investigations into U.S. diplomats in Russia.
That resolution came moments after the White House announced that Trump had reversed his position from Monday, when he said Putin’s proposal to cooperate on investigations was “an incredible offer.” The White House now says the offer was sincere, but that Trump disagrees with it.
Earlier Thursday, Trump said he looked forward to a second meeting “so that we can start 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.”
He said the Helsinki summit “was a great success, except with the real enemy of the people, the fake news media.”
But the news that the invitation was already in the works appeared to catch top Trump administration officials off guard.
“Say that again?” asked Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, speaking at the Aspen Security Forum, when moderator Andrea Mitchell announced the news. “That’s going to be special.”
Coats was forced to defend the intelligence community after Trump said he believed Putin’s denials of responsibility for hacking into Democratic campaign emails during the 2016 election campaign.
The last time Putin visited the White House was in 2005, at the invitation of President George W. Bush. Dmitry Medvedev, the former Russian president who is now prime minister, visited President Barack Obama in 2010.