Donald Trump invites Vladimir Putin to Washington

Senior intelligence staff caught off-guard by invitation to Russian president

Donald Trump has sided with Putin over Russian meddling in US elections
Trump and Putin in Helsinki
(Image credit: Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Donald Trump will invite Vladimir Putin to visit Washington this autumn after the pair’s recent meeting in Helsinki, The White House has announced.

News of the invitation “stunned the nation’s top intelligence official”, Dan Coats, The New York Times reports. He first learned of the plan while being interviewed by NBC News at the Aspen Security Forum.

“Say that again… Did I hear you?” Coats said when the interviewer broke the news. “OK… That’s going to be special.”

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Coats, who is US director of national intelligence, has expressed misgivings about meetings between Trump and Putin, reports The Washington Post. He was concerned about the Helsinki summit because “no notes were taken and only two interpreters were present”, the paper says.

Preparations for the autumn meeting are “already underway”, according to CNN, after Trump told John Bolton, his national security adviser, to begin making arrangements.

Democrats have seized on the idea of having Putin visit Washington in the run-up to the mid-term elections in November. “Late October would be great for us,” Democratic Senator Brian Schatz tweeted.

No deal

Yesterday Trump rejected a request by Putin to let Russia interrogate several US citizens accused of unspecified crimes, including the former US ambassador to Moscow, Michael McFaul.

Putin had reportedly floated the idea with Trump as part of a deal in which US authorities could have interrogated 12 Russian operatives indicted last week as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

Senior Republicans has expressed dismay that Trump would even consider the deal.

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