Bolton to visit Moscow to discuss possible Trump-Putin summit
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National security adviser John Bolton will visit Moscow this month, the latest sign a summit between President TrumpDonald TrumpCIA chief threatened to resign over push to install Trump loyalist as deputy: report Azar in departure letter says Capitol riot threatens to 'tarnish' administration's accomplishments Justice Dept. argues Trump should get immunity from rape accuser's lawsuit MORE and Russian President Vladimir Putin is in the works.

Garrett Marquis, a spokesman for Bolton, said Thursday the top national security aide will visit the Russian capital “to discuss a potential meeting between Presidents Trump and Putin.” 

The trip, which will take place from Monday to Wednesday, also includes stops in London and Rome to meet with government officials there. 

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Media reports have indicated Trump is expected to meet Putin for their first formal summit in July during the U.S. president’s previously scheduled trip to Europe. 

The meeting could take place either before the July 11 NATO summit in Brussels or after Trump’s visit to the United Kingdom on July 13, according to Bloomberg News.

Trump and Putin first met face-to-face in July of last year at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.

Trump has long expressed a desire to hold a summit with Putin in the hopes of forming a close personal relationship with the Russian leader and repairing damaged ties between Washington and Moscow. 

Members of Trump’s own party have scoffed at the goal, given Russia’s interference in the 2016 election that is now under investigation by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE. Chances of a thaw remain unlikely. 

Foreign policy hawks have repeatedly criticized Trump's friendly rhetoric toward Putin in light of the Russian leader's terrible record on human rights and freedom of the press. Trump objected to congressionally mandated sanctions on Moscow and raised eyebrows when he congratulated Putin on his victory in March in an election that international observers was rife with fraud and voter intimidation. 

But Trump has defended his stance, saying “no one has been tougher to Russia than Donald Trump."

“Ideally we want to get along with Russia. Getting along with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. Maybe we will, maybe we won’t,” Trump said in April.

Trump also drew rebuke earlier this month when he called for Russia to be reinstated in the Group of Seven (G-7), from which it was expelled after the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

“Whether you like it or not, and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run,” Trump told reporters ahead of the G-7 summit in Canada. “And in the G-7, which used be the G-8, they threw Russia out. They should let Russia come back in because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.”