White House Postpones Second Putin Summit Until After ‘Russia Witch Hunt’

BEIJING, July 17, 2018  -- U.S. President Donald Trump (L) shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a joint press conference in Helsinki, Finland, on July 16, 2018. (Xinhua/Lehtikuva/Jussi Nukari)
BEIJING, July 17, 2018 -- U.S. President Donald Trump (L) shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a joint press conference in Helsinki, Finland, on July 16, 2018. (Xinhua/Lehtikuva/Jussi Nukari) (X... BEIJING, July 17, 2018 -- U.S. President Donald Trump (L) shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a joint press conference in Helsinki, Finland, on July 16, 2018. (Xinhua/Lehtikuva/Jussi Nukari) (Xinhua/Lehtikuva/Jussi Nukari via Getty Images) MORE LESS

The White House, in a statement from National Security Advisor John Bolton, walked back President Trump’s invitation to Russian President Vladimir Putin for a meeting this fall in a statement that said that the “President believes that the next bilateral meeting with President Putin should take place after the Russia witch hunt is over.”

“[S]o we’ve agreed that it will be after the first of the year,” Bolton’s statement said.

In the wake of the fallout of his summit this month with Putin in Helsinki — which included a bizarre press conference where Trump appeared to side with Putin’s denial of Russian election meddling over the assessment of Trump’s own intel agencies — Trump tweeted that he was looking “forward to our second meeting.” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders followed up hours later in a tweet that said Trump had instructed Bolton to “invite President Putin to Washington in the fall and those discussions are already underway.”

The announcement caused confusion and criticism, including from members of Trump’s own party. A Kremlin official on Tuesday gave Trump’s invitation a chilly reception, but kept the door open for another meeting in the future.

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