President Donald Trump flipped his position and will no longer consider Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s proposal he made at the joint press conference of their summit in Helsinki.

The proposal, that Trump described in the first place as an “incredible offer” from the Russian leader, would have give special counsel Robert Mueller access to interviews with Russians indicted for hacking Democrats in 2016. In return, Russia would have been allowed to question certain U.S. officials it suspects of interfering in Russian affairs. That would include Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Moscow, who is a nemesis of the Kremlin because of his criticisms of Russia’s human rights record and support for sanctions against the country under the Magnitsky Act.


“This kind of effort should be a mutual one,” Putin said Monday. “We would expect that the Americans would reciprocate.”


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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday at the daily press briefing, “He said it was an interesting idea. He didn’t commit to anything . . . He wants to work with his team and determine if there’s any validity that would be helpful to the process,” she added. “It was an idea they threw out.”


The willingness of the White House to even contemplate handing over a former U.S. ambassador for interrogation by the Kremlin drew ire and astonishment from current and former U.S. officials. Also McFaul wrote in a tweet on July 18 that he hoped the White House would denounce “this ridiculous request from Putin.”

After the negative reaction, the White House said Thursday Trump now “disagrees” with Putin’s proposal. Sanders said in a statement, “It is a proposal that was made in sincerity by President Putin, but President Trump disagrees with it. Hopefully President Putin will have the 12 identified Russians come to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt,” her statement continued.

The statement came as the Senate was about to vote on a resolution barring U.S. diplomats from being questioned by foreign countries. It passed 98-0 votes.

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