It looks like Donald Trump will have to wait until next year before he meets Russian President Vladimir Putin again. As the LA Times reports, Trump invited Putin to The White House and their next meeting was scheduled for the fall. Republicans in Congress took issue with the timing because of its proximity to the mid-term elections.
However, in a statement issued on Wednesday, Trump’s national security advisor, John Bolton, asserted that the change had more to do with Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into U.S. election meddling by Russia.
Trump is still facing backlash triggered by his last meeting with Putin in Helsinki on Monday, July 16. Many on both sides of the aisle have criticized the U.S. president for his remarks during the press conference that followed their private meeting.
When asked why Americans should believe Putin’s claims that Russia did not interfere with the 2016 presidential elections, Donald Trump had this to say, according to the transcript published by Vox:
As you know, the concept of that came up perhaps a little before, but it came out as a reason why the Democrats lost an election, which frankly, they should have been able to win, because the electoral college is much more advantageous for Democrats, as you know, than it is to Republicans. We won the electoral college by a lot. 306 to 223, I believe. That was a well-fought battle. We did a great job.
At other points during the press conference, Trump brought up Hillary Clinton’s email scandal, said that the United States was partly to blame for tense diplomatic relations with Russian, and refused to criticize Putin. He also contradicted American intelligence agencies who recently concluded that Russia meddled in the last presidential election.
“I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this. I don’t see any reason why it would be, but I really do want to see the server,” Trump said when a reporter asked him to denounce Russian election interference.
— The Hill (@thehill) July 25, 2018
Trump later backtracked on that statement, and said that he misspoke during the Helsinki press conference, CNN reports.
“In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word “would” instead of “wouldn’t.” The sentence should have been: I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t — or why it wouldn’t be Russia,” he said a day later at a meeting with his cabinet and Republican representatives about tax cuts.
As the LA Times notes, President Putin never responded to Trump’s claim last week that the administration was planning to welcome him to Washington in the fall. His reluctance to do so was blamed on the negative press Trump has been receiving in the U.S. since the Helsinki Summit.