White House says Trump will meet with Putin in 2019, 'after the Russia witch hunt is over'

Trump met with Putin in Helsinki on July 16, three days after the Justice Department announced the indictment of 12 Russian military officers for conducting a “sustained effort” to hack Democrats’ emails and computer systems. Those indictments stemmed from Mueller’s investigation, which is also looking into whether Trump’s campaign cooperated with the Russian effort. Trump has repeatedly derided Mueller’s probe as a “witch hunt” and emphatically insisted there was “no collusion” between his campaign and Russia.

During his public appearances with Putin in Helsinki, Trump suggested he believed the Russian president’s denial that his intelligence officers interfered with the U.S. election. Trump’s comments provoked widespread outrage, since the American intelligence community had concluded Putin directed operations designed to boost Trump over his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. Days after the appearance in Helsinki, Trump suggested he misspoke and had meant to say he did not “see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia” that was responsible for the election cyberattacks.

On July 19, amid the controversy over Trump’s comments in Helsinki, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders announced that the president directed Bolton to “invite President Putin to Washington in the fall.”

“Those discussions are already underway,” Sanders said.

However, Putin never accepted Trump’s invitation to meet in Washington. On Tuesday, a Kremlin official told reporters the pair could meet at “other international events.”

In Wednesday’s White House statement, Bolton indicated the Mueller probe would be over by Jan. 1. It was unclear why he believes the investigation will end by that date. The White House did not respond to multiple requests from Yahoo News seeking clarification.

Source: Yahoo

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