President Donald Trump will not meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin again until after Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller completes his probe of Moscow’s 2016 election meddling.
The White House said last week that Trump wanted to hold a follow-up meeting to his recent summit in Finland with the Russian strongman this fall in Washington. But lawmakers from both parties have continued to criticize him over his actions there, including siding with Putin over U.S. intelligence agencies over the Kremlin’s 2016 election interference campaign.
“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,” National Security Adviser John Bolton said in a statement.
The announcement came on the heels of a possible escalation of U.S.-Russia tensions, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo outlined on Wednesday that the United States will not recognize Russia's annexation of Crimea.
“The United States calls on Russia to respect the principles to which it has long claimed to adhere and to end its occupation of Crimea,” Pompeo said in a statement released Wednesday as he was set to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Bolton was using Trump’s often-tweeted and -stated description of Mueller’s probe, which he says is unfounded because he and his campaign did not coordinate with any Russians during the campaign.
Some Republican lawmakers also use the term “witch hunt” and have called for the Mueller probe to be brought to an end. Trump did the same with a recent tweet.
“A disgrace to America,” Trump tweeted Monday. “They should drop the discredited Mueller Witch Hunt now!”