President Donald Trump said he would invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to the White House in an interview with reporters on Air Force One Wednesday.
Saying it would be “easy” for him to answer that he would not invite Putin, Trump told reporters he would invite Putin “at the right time” during the interview, which was off-the-record when it took place but made public by the White House Thursday afternoon.
“I don’t think this is the right time, but the answer is yes I would,” said Trump, who was en route to Paris.
Trump and Putin had their first meeting on July 7 during the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, where Trump touted “very positive things happening for Russia, for the United States and for everybody concerned.” That meeting came months after Trump said relations between the U.S. and Russia hit an all-time low.
The President previously met with Russia’s top diplomat, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in the Oval Office in May.
It was at that meeting where Trump had disclosed “highly classified information” to Russian officials, according to multiple reports. Trump dismissed claims that he had compromised Israeli intelligence in the meeting, saying he “never mentioned the word or the name Israel.”
Trump’s comments come just after a New York Times report revealed that last summer, Donald Trump, Jr., along Jared Kushner and then campaign manager Paul Manafort, met with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer who claimed to have compromising information on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Emails about the meeting mentioned the Russian government’s effort to aid Trump’s campaign.
Trump Jr. posted images of the emails on Twitter after the report, which is the most recent in a series of revelations as the U.S. investigates Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion from the Trump campaign.
While the White House staff has presented contradictory information on the meeting, the President defended his son to reporters Wednesday. Trump said he did not know about the meeting until “two or three days ago,” adding that “nothing happened with the meeting.”
“Honestly, in a world of politics, most people are going to take that meeting,” Trump said. “I mean, how many people are not going to take the meeting?” he added.
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