Trump invites Putin to United States as Democrats call for Helsinki details

Brendan Smialowski  AFP  Getty Images FILE

Brendan Smialowski AFP Getty Images FILE

Coats said during an interview at the Aspen Security Forum that he would have advised Trump against meeting one-on-one with Putin, and was visibly surprised when told that the White House had invited Putin for a visit this fall.

At a post-summit news conference with Mr Putin in Helsinki, Mr Trump responded to a question about Russian meddling in the 2016 USA presidential election by casting doubt on the findings of his own intelligence agencies and denouncing the "stupidity" of United States policies.

Republican Rep. Will Hurd wrote in a New York Times op-ed that that President Donald Trump is participating in a disinformation campaign by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Donald Trump, left, and Vladimir Putin shake hands at the beginning of a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland. Trump has gone back and forth on what was said during the meeting and whether he believes Russian Federation meddled in the election on his behalf.

And he recalled telling Chancellor Angela Merkel, "I said, 'Wait a minute, we're supposed to be protecting you from Russian Federation, and you're paying them billions of dollars".

On Thursday, FBI director Christopher Wray said the U.S. intelligence community stands by its view that Russian Federation meddled in the 2016 USA election, despite Putin's denial.

'That's going to be special, ' he said, to laughs from an audience at a forum. When asked about it, he responded with "that's a place I don't really go to publicly" - a non-denial denial.

And, the fact that a high-profile, high-stakes summit between the commanders in chief of the world's two biggest nuclear powers could be held without a solid achievement or failure to point to has flummoxed many.

She said the US hopes Mr Putin will have the Russians indicted on charges brought by the US Department of Justice "come to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt".

Michael Dwyer  APSen. Ed Markey speaks during the 2018 Massachusetts Democratic Party Convention
Michael Dwyer APSen. Ed Markey speaks during the 2018 Massachusetts Democratic Party Convention

On Wednesday, the Russian Prosecutor General's office listed Americans it wanted to question for "illegal activities", including Michael McFaul, who was US ambassador to Russia under Democratic former President Barack Obama.

Russian Embassy representatives visited Butina in Washington on Thursday, and said in a statement that she is in good health but "has difficulties in adapting to prison conditions".

Russia is ready to discuss a proposed new meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump, Interfax news agency cited Russia's ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, as saying on Friday. The White House said on Wednesday that Trump was considering the proposal, drawing a barrage of criticism from his fellow Republicans as well as Democrats. Coats said Thursday it's "technically possible" but that it "probably won't happen".

Putin told Russian diplomats that in Helsinki, he proposed a referendum to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine but agreed not to disclose the plan so that Trump could consider it, according to two people who attended Putin's closed-door speech on Thursday.

Earlier Thursday, Trump said he looks forward to a second summit with Putin. He also swerved around a U.S. reporter's question as to whether he directed government agents to interfere in American politics.

In the latest, on Thursday, the White House had to distance itself from what he had described as an "incredible offer" made by the Russian president.

'The administration is not going to send, force Americans to travel to Russian Federation to be interrogated by Vladimir Putin and his team, ' Mr Pompeo said.

"It is a proposal made in sincerity by President Putin, but President Trump disagrees with it", White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

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