Politics

Trump-Putin II: Second Meeting Being Planned Despite Confusion

POTUS on EU fine of Google: ‘I told you so!’

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrive for a joint press conference after their summit on Monday in Helsinki, Finland. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

The White House announced Thursday it is discussing a second Donald Trump-Vladimir Putin summit in Washington with the Kremlin, despite a partisan backlash over their Monday meeting.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced President Donald Trump instructed his national security adviser, John Bolton, to invite  Putin to the U.S. capital for a second summit, even as the confusing fallout continues from their initial summit.

Lawmakers from both parties are perplexed by Trump’s behavior Monday at the Putin summit, including a joint press conference during which he sided with the Russian strongman over U.S. intelligence agencies. Senators are, for instance, preparing legislation that would slap new sanctions on Russia if U.S. spy agencies conclude the Kremlin meddles in the coming midterm elections.

Trump again on Thursday declared the Helsinki, Finland, meeting a “great success,” even as senior Republican lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, continued to send messages to Putin that Congress will act if his country again interferes in an American election.

And it became clear Thursday morning that the president is eager to try turning the fallout from his widely criticized Helsinki performance and his and his team’s clumsy attempts to repair the damage. He called the news media the “real enemy of the people” again in a tweet, a message that resonates with his political supporters.

But the biggest news from the presidential tweetstorm was this reference to the Russian leader to which he has a yet-unexplained affinity: “I look forward to our second meeting so that we can start implementing some of the many things discussed.”

He then ticked off some of the things the two leaders allegedly — there were no aides other than government-issued translators in the room even though Putin speaks English talked about behind closed doors. Those include joint counterterrorism efforts, Israeli security, paring both countries’ nuclear arms, Ukraine, North Korea and others.

Lawmakers in both parties are demanding administration officials appear on Capitol Hill in the coming weeks to testify publicly about what Trump and Putin discussed as they struggle to understand the president’s interest in close relations with a leader who tried to upend an U.S. election.

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon told CNBC on Wednesday that Trump “gravitates toward personalities that are strong personalities.”

“He likes President Xi, he likes Erdogan — who I think is the most dangerous guy in the world,” Bannon said, referring to the Chinese and Turkish leaders. “And I think he’s attracted to Putin because he looks at those people as strong leaders of countries. They’re nationalists. They put their countries first and they get on with it. And they don’t care what other people think.”

In another tweet, the president used the European Union’s $5 billion fine for Google to declare himself right about his tough stance and policies toward America's European allies on trade matters, exclaiming: “I told you so!” Republican lawmakers, however, have been angered by his trade moves.

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