Administration

Trump vows to hold second meeting with Putin

President Trump on Thursday said he wants to have a second meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, even as he endures days of stark, bipartisan criticism over his performance at his first summit with the Russian leader Monday in Helsinki.

Trump, who at the summit appeared to put equal weight in Putin’s denial of involvement in the 2016 election with the findings of his intelligence agencies that Russia did interfere in the election, pronounced the summit a huge success and said he was looking forward to meeting Putin again.

“The Summit with Russia was a great success, except with the real enemy of the people, the Fake News Media,” Trump tweeted.

Later Thursday afternoon, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted that “discussions are already underway” to invite Putin to D.C. this fall.

Trump met with Putin one-on-one in Finland, followed by an expanded meeting with aides. They then held a joint press conference, where Trump cast doubt on the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

{mosads}He has since walked back that statement and expressed confidence in his intelligence officials, while also suggesting Russia is no longer a threat and that others may have been involved in the meddling.

The intelligence issue was not the only controversy from the summit.

Trump also discussed allowing Russia to interview U.S. citizens as part of an investigation, a move rejected by a State Department spokeswoman on Wednesday.

He was also criticized for not standing up more to Putin during the press conference. Ahead of the summit, Trump blamed the poor U.S.-Russia relationship on past U.S. governments and special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. He did not mention Russia’s annexation of Crimea, its meddling in the U.S. and other elections or the death of a woman in Great Britain, who British authorities say likely died from poison meant for a former Russian double agent.

Trump has come under severe criticism from both sides of the aisle for his remarks alongside Putin. 

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) blasted it as “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.” Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Trump “must appreciate that Russia is not our ally.”

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Trump’s rhetoric at the summit was “thoughtless” and “weak,” and he called on Republicans to act to rein in the president. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called Trump’s remarks “disgraceful” and lamented that his international appearances “embarrass America.” 

Media analysts widely panned Trump’s performance. On Fox News, normally friendlier ground for the president, host Bret Baier called Trump’s comments “surreal,” while Fox Business host Neil Cavuto called them “disgusting.” 

Updated at 3:58 p.m.

Tags Charles Schumer Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren John McCain Paul Ryan Robert Mueller

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