Donald Trump Postpones Meeting With Vladimir Putin Over Robert Mueller’s “Witch Hunt”
Just a few weeks ago, the president had invited Putin to join him in Washington this coming fall. He has since changed his tune, claiming he would rather wait until Special Counsel Robert Mueller had concluded his “witch hunt” into any potential Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“The President believes that the next bilateral meeting with President Putin should take place after the Russia witch hunt is over, so we’ve agreed that it will be after the first of the year,” announced White House adviser John Bolton.
There is currently no hard deadline for Mueller to wrap up his investigation.
The postponement, critics argue, is an attempt for the president to publicly appear tough on Russia and save face after receiving harsh bipartisan backlash following the Helsinki summit. At the meeting, Trump maintained a conciliatory attitude towards Putin and even sided with the Russian president over his own intelligence agencies when discussing Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 election. He has since spent weeks attempting to walk back on his remarks.
Last Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also issued a statement that the U.S. will never recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. This comes after Trump had previously stood next to Putin as the Russian president announced that the matter was merely one of “differing viewpoints.”
Following the media frenzy, Putin has been reluctant to accept the invitation. “I think it would be wise to let the dust settle and then we can discuss all these questions in a business-like way. But not now,” said Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov.
Tensions between the two nations have also become strained after the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers for allegedly hacking into the DNC in a “sustained effort” to meddle in the 2016 election. Another Russian agent was later charged for secretly using the NRA and other conservative groups to establish ties with key Republican political figures in the run up to the election.