Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet in Paris next month, their second one-on-one meeting this year as the Justice Department continues looking into whether the president’s 2016 campaign sought help from Moscow.
National security adviser John Bolton made the announcement — another reversal from the White House — in Moscow, where he has been meeting with Russian officials about a decades-old nuclear treaty from which Trump says he intends to withdraw.
“We will make precise arrangements on that, but it will happen in connection with the 100th anniversary of the celebration of the [World War I] armistice that the French are hosting on November the 11th,” Bolton told reporters.
Scheduling the summit for November is yet another reversal from Trump.
In July, the White House issued this statement from Bolton: “The president believes that the next bilateral meeting with President Putin should take place after the Russia witch hunt is over, so we’ve agreed that it will be after the first of the year.”
But Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III is still conducting his investigation; for instance, his team and Trump’s counsel reportedly have discussed the president submitting written answers to some questions. Mueller has not yet signaled to Congress to expect one or more reports with his conclusions.
The stakes for Trump will be high. His first Putin summit, in Finland in July, did not go so well. Trump repeatedly demurred on whether Russia meddled in the election while standing just a few feet from a smirking Russian president, who awkwardly presented Trump with a World Cup soccer ball at the conclusion of an equally awkward press conference.
Lawmakers from both parties instantly criticized Trump over his actions in Finland, including his repeated siding with Putin over U.S. intelligence agencies over the Kremlin’s 2016 election interference campaign. Republicans joined Democrats in saying the U.S. leader appeared weak at a time he should have projected strength against an adversary.