Trump to formally invite Putin to United States, startling national security director

Brendan Smialowski  AFP  Getty Images FILE

Brendan Smialowski AFP Getty Images FILE

But on Wednesday, Trump appeared to suggest that Russian Federation is no longer targeting the USA elections, again contradicting the findings of US intelligence agencies.

At the Hudson Institute think tank in Washington last Friday, Coats said, "We are not yet seeing the kind of electoral interference in specific states and voter data bases that we experienced in 2016; however, we fully realize that we are just one click on a keyboard away from a similar situation repeating itself".

"My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others, they said they think it's Russian Federation".

"This is the beginning of the dialogue with Russian Federation and our administration and theirs and we're going to continue working through those things", she told reporters at the White House on Wednesday.

Even Trump's own intelligence chief, Dan Coats, said Thursday, "I don't know what happened in that meeting".

"President Trump asked [National Security Advisor John Bolton] to invite President Putin to Washington in the fall and those discussions are already underway", Sanders tweeted on Thursday.

It's just the latest surprise to come out of Trump's Helsinki presser with Putin.

The invitation comes as the White House has faced a tumultuous week in the aftermath of Trump's controversial summit with Putin in Helsinki.

Ambassador Anatoly Antonov said Russian Federation "was always open to such proposals" and that Moscow is "ready for discussions on this subject". No Russian leader has visited the White House in almost a decade.

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

But on Thursday Mr Trump said the meeting was a "great success" and he was looking forward to their next meeting.

To represent that moment, visual artist Nancy Burson merged the faces of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin into a still image.

Then on Wednesday, Sanders had to again state that the president agreed with the assessment of the intelligence community about Russian interference, saying that when the president said "no" before following a question about Russian election interference with a response about the USA relationship with that country, he was actually indicating that he was not going to respond to questions from reporters.

The controversy escalated on Wednesday, when Sanders told reporters Trump was entertaining a proposal from Putin that would allow special counsel Robert Mueller's team to interrogate the 12 Russian military intelligence officials it indicted last week if, in exchange, the USA allowed the Russian government to interrogate certain Americans, including the former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul.

"We need a new positive agenda, aimed at working together and finding common ground", he said.

Coats acknowledged he has no idea what was said in Trump's one-on-one meeting with Putin, accompanied only by translators.

Republicans and Democrats in Congress are seeking answers on what agreements Mr Trump may have reached with Mr Putin in their two-hour meeting on Monday in which they were accompanied only by their interpreters.

Sanders on Thursday said, "It is a proposal that was made in sincerity by President Putin, but President Trump disagrees with it", a day after saying the proposal was going to be discussed by Trump's team. They were indeed demanding confrontations of Vladimir Putin and were extremely angry that the summit went well.

Trump appeared to accept the information presented to him that proved Russian Federation meddled in the election, the report states.

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