Former top US diplomat: Mueller charges could have waited until after Trump-Putin summit

Former Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte argued Friday that the special counsel could have waited until after President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump takes shot at new GOP candidate in Ohio over Cleveland nickname GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default MORE's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin next week to announce the latest indictments of 12 Russian nationals.

“It could have just as well waited until the president had left Europe. So it raised my eyebrow. I don’t know what the mitigating circumstances are,” Negroponte, who also served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations during the George W. Bush administration, told Hill.TV's Krystal Ball on "Rising."

ADVERTISEMENT

Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinWashington still needs more transparency House Judiciary to probe DOJ's seizure of data from lawmakers, journalists The Hill's Morning Report - Biden-Putin meeting to dominate the week MORE announced on Friday that special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers in the 2016 hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Rosenstein said that Trump was informed and "fully aware" of the indictments, which comes just three days between the president is set to meet with his Russian counterpart in Helsinki.

Negroponte, a former Director of National Intelligence, said he believed it was appropriate for Trump to go ahead with his meeting with Putin.

"If it's been scheduled, it's important that these two heads of state meet. Russia is a permanent member of the [United Nations] Security Council, it's a nuclear weapons state, it has global reach, whether it's in the Middle East, or in the Korean Peninsula, or elsewhere, and I think it behooves us to have that kind of dialogue," he said.

Trump told reporters on Thursday that he would raise the issue of election meddling with Putin next week. 

“I think we go into that meeting not looking for so much. We want to find out about Syria. We will, of course, ask your favorite question about meddling. I will be asking that question again,” the president said.

Russia has denied meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

The full interview with Negroponte will air Monday on Hill.TV's "Rising."

— Julia Manchester