[Marxism] Putin is invited to U.S. amid growing furor over summit, The Washington Post
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Fri Jul 20 05:26:45 MDT 2018
The Washington Post, July 20, 2018
Putin is invited to U.S. amid growing furor over summit
By Shane Harris;Felicia Sonmez;John Wagner
Planned meeting takes intelligence chief by surprise
The White House announced Thursday that Vladimir Putin has been invited
to Washington this fall, even as leaders in Washington tried to fully
understand what happened when President Trump and the Russian leader met
earlier this week in Helsinki.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced the planned
visit in a tweet, saying that national security adviser John Bolton
extended the invitation and that "discussions are already underway."
As the late afternoon tweet landed, Director of National Intelligence
Daniel Coats was on stage at the Aspen Security Forum in the middle of
an interview with NBC's Andrea Mitchell, who broke the news to him.
Coats, clearly surprised, took a deep breath.
"Say that again," he said. "Did I hear you?"
She repeated the news.
"Okaaaay," Coats said. "That's going to be special."
Coats said he would have advised against Trump and Putin's private
meeting in Helsinki, which worried U.S. security officials because no
notes were taken and only two interpreters were present, but that he had
not been consulted. Underscoring how little is known about the meeting,
Coats acknowledged that he has not been told what happened in the room.
Asked whether it was possible Putin had secretly recorded the more-than
two-hour meeting, Coats answered, "That risk is always there."
Thursday's announcement was the latest unexpected turn in a week in
which Trump has faced a torrent of bipartisan criticism over his cozy
approach to Putin and his vacillating utterances about Moscow's election
interference, all while brushing aside warnings that the Russian leader
should be viewed as an adversary.
"The Summit with Russia was a great success, except with the real enemy
of the people, the Fake News Media," Trump wrote in a morning tweet. "I
look forward to our second meeting so that we can start implementing
some of the many things discussed."
The tensions within the administration have been most evident between
Trump and Coats. When asked in Helsinki whom he believed regarding
Russia's interference in the 2016 election, he appeared to give equal
weight to Coats's warnings and Putin's denial of Russian interference.
"All I can do is ask the question," he said. "My people came to me,
Daniel Coats came to me and some others, they said they think it's
Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it's not Russia."
Inside the White House, Trump's advisers were in an uproar over Coats's
interview in Aspen, Colo. They said the optics were especially damaging,
noting that at moments Coats appeared to be laughing at the president,
playing to his audience of the intellectual elite in a manner that was
sure to infuriate Trump.
"Coats has gone rogue," said one senior White House official, who spoke
on the condition of anonymity to provide a candid assessment.
After Coats indirectly rebuked Trump's Helsinki performance on Monday,
senior administration officials were concerned that the intelligence
director could perhaps resign and so implored Trump to reassure Coats
and calm the waters. Trump tried to do just that on Wednesday in an
interview with CBS Evening News anchor Jeff Glor, singling out Coats by
name for praise. A transcript of the president's interview was sent to
Coats to ensure the director of national intelligence saw the comments,
the senior official said.
White House aides are worried that Trump will interpret the comments by
Coats as a personal betrayal, since they came so soon after the
president praised him. Explaining that Trump does not take kindly to
slights and that he nurses grudges, one official predicted that Coats's
Aspen interview could bother the president more than the many ethical
blunders of Scott Pruitt, who was ousted as Environmental Protection
A senior U.S. intelligence official said that Coats has a good
relationship with the president and speaks with him frequently. He
disputed the suggestion that the director was somehow undermining the
president and said Coats was doing his job to describe what the Russians
"For someone in the White House to criticize Dan Coats for speaking
truth to power is unfair," the intelligence official said.
On Capitol Hill, where the reaction to Trump's shifting stances on
Russia's role in the election has ranged from mild disapproval to
accusations of treason, lawmakers on Thursday gave the president a
legislative rebuke - albeit a toothless one.
On a 98-to-0 vote, the Senate approved a measure telling Trump not to
honor a request by Putin that would have allowed Russian officials to
interview Americans targeted by Moscow, including former U.S. ambassador
Michael McFaul, in exchange for making Russian intelligence officers
indicted in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's probe available for
questioning. The White House caused an uproar on Wednesday when it said
the president and his team would discuss the request rather than
dismissing it out of hand.
Just before the vote, Sanders said Trump did not agree with Putin's
request but described it in friendly terms, saying it "was made in
Two other symbolic resolutions were blocked by Senate Republicans,
underscoring their reluctance to challenge Trump despite voicing
concerns over his comments this week. Those measures would have urged
the president to take a tougher stand against Russia and affirmed
lawmakers' support for the intelligence community's assessment of
election interference as well as the special counsel's investigation
into alleged ties between Trump's campaign and the Kremlin.
In a brief speech Thursday to Russian diplomats in Moscow, Putin said
the Helsinki summit had led to "useful agreements." Now, he said, U.S.
jobs and European and Middle Eastern security hang in the balance as
Trump's U.S. opponents try to block the path to improving relations
between Moscow and Washington.
"We will see how things go, as some forces in America are trying to
belittle and disavow the results of the Helsinki meeting," Putin said.
Trump told lawmakers this week that he and Putin had made "significant
progress toward addressing" key issues. U.S. officials have offered few
specifics on what was decided on those subjects beyond what Sanders on
Wednesday called "the beginning of a dialogue with Russia."
Trump's close guarding of information about his discussions with Putin
reflects his anger over leaks earlier this year, according to current
and former White House officials.
He was enraged when it was reported in May that he did not follow
specific warnings from his national security advisers and congratulated
Putin on his reelection. The warnings from aides included a section in
his briefing materials in all-capital letters stating "DO NOT CONGRATULATE."
Trump urged senior White House officials to "fire someone," in the words
of one former senior administration official, and mentioned to others
the names of low-level National Security Council staffers who he thought
could be responsible for the leak.
Trump has since complained that many within his own government do not
want him to have a friendly relationship with Putin and has been
skeptical of making others privy to his conversations with the Russian
leader - afraid that they will become public, according to the officials.
john.wagner at washpost.com
Philip Rucker, Josh Dawsey, Karoun Demirjian, Karen DeYoung and Missy
Ryan in Washington and Anton Troianovski and Natalia Abbakumova in
Moscow contributed to this report.
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