White House officials ignored a request from President Trump last year to invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to the White House, hoping instead that Trump simply would not raise the issue again.
An unnamed official told The Washington Post on Friday that Trump privately asked his aides in November to set up a bilateral meeting with Putin at the White House after meeting the Russian leader in Vietnam at an economic summit that month.
Aides ignored the request, the source told the Post, hoping it would be just a passing interest.
“After that meeting, the president said he wanted to invite Putin to the White House,” one U.S. official told the Post. “We ignored it.”
“They decided: Let’s wait and see if he raises it again,” the official continued.
According to the Post, Trump has been asking privately for such a summit since November.
A senior State Department official told the newspaper that while both sides were eager to orchestrate such a summit, there were concerns about the amount of preparation needed to get Trump ready for such a meeting.
“Personally, I would be very reluctant to put my president into a meeting where he has to talk about dachas, or he has to talk about staffing patterns at embassies … There is a lot of work that has to be done ahead of a meeting like this,” an official said.
News of Trump’s desire for a summit with Putin comes just one day after a White House aide said the Trump administration was “exploring” a possible summit between the two leaders and days after the president issued repeated calls for Russia to be reinstated in the Group of Seven — comments that were mostly unsupported by other members of the group.
“I don’t think any decisions have been made, or details have been worked out, but I believe both sides are exploring an opportunity to try to do that,” National Security Council member Richard Hooker said Thursday.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Putin has also considered organizing a meeting with Trump in Vienna, reportedly discussing the issue with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
BY JOHN BOWDEN – 06/15/18