Press secretary Sarah Sanders said Thursday that discussions were underway for Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit Washington, D.C. in the fall.
The announcement comes days after President Donald Trump faced a bipartisan backlash for his widely criticized commentsimmediately following his first meeting with the Russian leader.
“In Helsinki, @POTUS agreed to ongoing working level dialogue between the two security council staffs President Trump asked @Ambjohnbolton to invite President Putin to Washington in the fall and those discussions are already underway,” Sanders said in a tweet.
The statement followed the president’s indication earlier Thursday that a follow-up session was in the works. “The Summit with Russia was a great success, except with the real enemy of the people, the Fake News Media,” he tweeted. “I look forward to our second meeting so that we can start implementing some of the many things discussed…” Among the long list of issues he said he and Putin had spoken about: terrorism, nuclear proliferation, “cyber attacks,” trade, Ukraine, Israeli security and Middle East peace, and North Korea.
“There are many answers, some easy and some hard, to these problems…but they can ALL be solved!” he added.
Putin has visited the United States seven times as Russian leader, according to the State Department: He met once each with Presidents Clinton and Obama during U.N. sessions in New York, and five times with President George W. Bush, including visits to the White House and Camp David.
The announcement that Putin was in talks to visit Washington again comes amid special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election, and heightened scrutiny of Trump’s views on Russian relations following the Helsinki summit.
The president came under widespread criticism on Monday for not backing his intelligence community’s assessment that Moscow had interfered in the presidential election and blamed America for the deteriorating relations with Russia.
In the following days, Trump attempted to quell the backlash. On Tuesday, Trump said he had misspoken when he said he did not see a reason why it would have been Russia that meddled, and had actually intended to make the opposite statement.
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 U.S. relationship with that country, he was actually indicating that he was not going to respond to questions from reporters.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, told by NBC’s Andrea Mitchell at the Aspen Security Forum of the White House announcement that a Putin visit was in the works, first laughingly asked her to repeat the news, then responded: “Okay. That’s gonna be special.”