Trump orders security adviser to invite Putin to Washington

Discussions under way about autumn meeting between presidents, says Sarah Sanders

US president Donald Trump says he holds Russian president Vladimir Putin personally responsible for election meddling in 2016. Video: CBS News

 

US president Donald Trump has instructed his national security advisor to invite Russian president Vladimir Putin to Washington this autumn, the White House has confirmed.

Press secretary Sarah Sanders said “discussions were under way” about an autumn meeting between the two men. And that national security adviser John Bolton had been instructed by the president to invite Mr Putin.

The development came hours after the White House was forced to clarify that President Trump opposed a request from Mr Putin to send former US officials and diplomats to Russia for questioning.

Mr Putin made the suggestion at his meeting with the US leader on Monday in exchange for granting permission to US investigators to interview the 12 Russian individuals charged last week with interfering in the US elections.

The White House suggested on Wednesday that the US president was discussing the idea with advisers, with Mr Trump branding the proposal an “interesting idea.”

But the suggestion prompted outrage by politicians, prompting the US Senate to vote on an emergency resolution on Thursday calling on the president not to allow diplomats, officials and military members to be made available to Mr Putin’s government for questioning. The resolution was carried by 98 to 0.

Specifically, the Russian government requested that 11 former US diplomats and officials – including former US ambassador Michael McFaul – be questioned by Russian officials.

But faced with a growing outcry, the White House was forced to issue a clarification earlier today.

“It is a proposal that was made in sincerity by President Putin, but President Trump disagrees with it,” said White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders. “Hopefully, President Putin will have the 12 identified Russians come to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt,” she said.

Mr McFaul had earlier called on the White House to correct the record and denounce “in categorical terms this ridiculous request from Putin”.

“Not doing so creates moral equivalency between a legitimacy US indictment of Russian intelligence officers and a crazy, completely fabricated story invented by Putin,” he said.

The clarification marked the third row-back by the White House this week as it struggles to contain the political damage from Mr Trump’s summit with the Russian leader in Helsinki.

In another break from protocol, President Trump criticised the US federal reserve for raising interest rates and complained about the strength of the dollar in an interview with CNBC, comments that drove the currency lower. “I am not happy about it. But at the same time I’m letting them do what they feel is best,” he said.

Presidents traditionally do not comment on monetary policy, which is the preserve of the Federal Reserve.

Earlier in the day, Mr Trump lashed out at the media, repeating his claim that the “fake news media” – and not Russia – is the “real enemy of the people”.

Tweeting on Thursday morning from the White House, he said that his summit with Vladimir Putin had been “a great success” – “except with the real enemy of the people, the Fake News Media”.

Mr Trump said he looked forward to a second meeting with the Russian president so “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”.

“There are many answers, some easy and some hard, to these problems ... but they can ALL be solved!,” he said.

His tweet was just one of a series lambasting the media over its coverage of the summit.

“The Fake News Media wants so badly to see a major confrontation with Russia, even a confrontation that could lead to war,” he said, adding that they “hate the fact that I’ll probably have a good relationship with Putin”.

But he singled out Fox News, and its flagship morning news show Fox & Friends, for praise.

In an earlier tweet he said: “The Fake News Media is going Crazy! They make up stories without any backup, sources or proof.” Many of the stories written about him, he claimed, were “total fiction”.