President Donald Trump is already gearing up for a second meeting with Vladimir Putin despite continued criticism over how he handled his Helsinki summit with the Russian president. But Trump may be seeking a home-field advantage for this second session. According to the White House, Trump plans to invite Putin to Washington, D.C.
"In Helsinki, @POTUS agreed to ongoing working level dialogue between the two security council staffs," White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted Thursday. "President Trump asked @Ambjohnbolton to invite President Putin to Washington in the fall and those discussions are already underway."
Sanders did not provide any further details pertaining to Trump's planned invitation to Putin, nor did she say if the Russian leader would be specifically be invited to the White House.
President Trump has been weathering continued bipartisan criticism for his refusal to confront Putin about U.S. intelligence agencies' reports of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. What's more, Trump has issued a number of confusing, and at times contradictory, statements about Russia's alleged election meddling since meeting with Putin in Helsinki on Monday.
On Tuesday, Trump claimed he'd been firm with Putin in an interview with CBS News, saying "I let him know we can't have this" when asked if he'd confronted the Russian leader about their interference. But Trump's comments Tuesday appeared to be in stark contrast to those he'd made the day before in Helsinki.
While standing alongside Putin in Helsinki on Monday, Trump characterized Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation as a "ridiculous" "witch hunt" and said he did not see "any reason" why Russia would be behind the election meddling and hacking. Later, after his comment sparked a storm of criticism, Trump claimed he'd been trying to use a double negative and had misspoke. He claimed he'd meant to say, "I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia."
Trump was also heavily criticized for reportedly considering what he'd described as an "incredible" offer from Putin: allow Russian authorities to question several Americans, including a former ambassador in return for access to the 12 Russians recently indicted in Mueller's probe for hacking Democratic National Committee emails. According to the New York Times, a number of diplomats and former administration officials condemned Trump's reported willingness to even discuss such a deal as a risk to American diplomats.
But in the midst of continued criticism, Trump teased a second meeting with Putin on Thursday. "The Summit with Russia was a great success, except with the real enemy of the people, the Fake News Media," the president tweeted. "I look forward to our second meeting so that we can start implementing some of the many things discussed." The president went on to say he planned to discuss trade, terrorism, Ukraine, security for Israel, nuclear proliferation, cyber attacks, the Middle East peace, and North Korea with Putin at their next meet.
The president did not say whether he would continue discussions regarding Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 election with Putin should the Russian leader accept his invitation to meet in Washington.