The White House on Thursday announced that President Trump has instructed his National Security Adviser to extend an invitation to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced on Twitter
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.
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) July 19, 2018
The tweet comes as questions mount over what President Trump and Putin discussed in private and whether or not the President entered into any agreement with Putin.
As the tweet was published Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats was being interviewed by NBC/MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell at The Aspen Institutes annual forum discussing national security issues
Remarkable reaction:@mitchellreports: The W.H. has announced on Twitter that Vladimir Putin is coming to the W.H. in the fall.
COATS: Say that again?
MITCHELL: Vladimir Putin, coming to the—
COATS: Did I hear you?
MITCHELL: Yeah, yeah.
COATS: OK. That's gonna be special. pic.twitter.com/Ifwz7tMtW0
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) July 19, 2018
DNI Coats also said of Putin, “It is very clear that virtually nothing happens in Russia of any kind of consequence that Vladimir Putin doesn’t know about or hasn’t order.”
Director of Nat'l Intelligence Coats:
"It is very clear that virtually nothing happens [in Russia] of any kind of consequence that Vladimir Putin doesn't know about or hasn't ordered. I think we're pretty sure about that." pic.twitter.com/DdJDdg44kN
— NBC News (@NBCNews) July 20, 2018
The Washington Post reported that a senior White House official said, “Coats has gone rogue.” The official spoke to the Post on the condition of anonymity to provide a more candid assessment. According to the Post the official told them, that after President Trump’s Helsinki “performance on Monday,” and Coats “indirectly rebuked,” President Trump, senior officials worried that perhaps Coats could resign.
On Wednesday President Trump sat down with CBS News anchor Jeff Glor and when asked about DNI Coats statement that Russia’s attempt to disrupt elections, “is an on-going threat,” He answered, “well I’d accept that.”
According to the senior official the transcript of President Trump offering, “praise of DNI Coats,” was sent DNI Coats to “ensure that DNI Coats saw the comments.
.@jeffglor: "[DNI Dan] Coats says the threat is ongoing. Do you agree with that?"
President Trump: "Well, I'd accept that. He's an expert."
Days ago, Pres. Trump told CBS News "I don't know if I agree with that" when asked about Coats' assessment of a cyberattack threat. pic.twitter.com/Y8lvnPbDyA
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) July 18, 2018
Senate lawmakers weighed in via The Hill on the invitation to Putin to visit the White House
Senate Majority Whip, John Cornyn (R-TX) said, “maybe in a year or two.”
Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) said, “I don’t have anything to say about that today.”
Senator Shelly Moore Capito ( R-West VA) “At this point I think we need to clarify where we are,” adding, “It’s a little cloudy, so if he’s asking my advice I would say let’s let the dust settle here. Let’s work on some of the issues they talked about.”
Next Wednesday Secretary o State Mike Pompeo is set to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to address both the Helsinki Summit and the Singapore.