Discussions are underway to bring Putin to Washington, and it could come close to Election Day

  • The White House on Thursday said discussions are underway to have Russian President Vladimir Putin visit Washington this fall.
  • The announcement comes several days after President Donald Trump’s controversial meeting with Putin in Finland.
  • Trump has faced bipartisan backlash over how he handled the meeting.

On the heels of President Donald Trump’s controversial meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Finland, the White House on Thursday said discussions are “underway” to have the Russian leader visit Washington, DC, in the fall.

“In Helsinki, [Trump] agreed to ongoing working level dialogue between the two security council staffs,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted.

She said Trump asked national security adviser John Bolton to “invite President Putin to Washington in the fall and those discussions are already underway.”

No specific dates were proposed, but a visit in the fall would put the timing close to that of the 2018 midterm elections, amid the specter of Russian election meddling in the 2016 elections and its continued fallout.

Trump has faced significant backlash following his meeting with Putin, after which he was accused of siding with the Russian leader over the US intelligence community on the subject of Russia’s 2016 interference.

The Trump administration has been in damage-control mode since his return, saying the president stands by US intelligence agencies and will work to prevent future attempts from Russia to attack the US electoral system.

Trump has faced criticism over his apparent openness to a proposal from Putin that would have seen roughly a dozen Americans, including former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, interrogated by the Russian government in a potential swap for 12 Russian nationals indicted by the special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.

The White House on Thursday said Trump “disagrees” with Putin’s “sincere” proposal. Meanwhile, the Senate delivered a rare, unified rebuke of Trump on Thursday by unanimously passing a resolution expressing its opposition to allow Russia to question US officials.

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