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Trump defends efforts to build a rapport with Putin

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

The Russian ambassador to the United States said on Friday that Moscow was "open" to a follow-up summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump in Washington, four days after the leaders' private one-on-one meeting in Helsinki.

In a stunning turn of events, President Donald Trump has invited Russia's Vladimir Putin to the White House this fall.

In the wake of a firestorm over his press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Trump on Thursday fired back at his critics by posting an old video of Hillary Clinton.

That happened following Trump and Putin's Finland meeting this week, when Coats had to reiterate the US intelligence position on Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

And he seemed to endorse a plan Putin proposed that would allow special counsel Robert Mueller's team to work with Russian investigators to question 12 Russians indicted last week in the investigation into Russian election meddling.

A Republican congressman and former Central Intelligence Agency officer, William Hurd, wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times late on Thursday entitled, "Trump is Being Manipulated by Putin". "I just felt at this point and time that what we had assessed and re-assessed and re-assessed and carefully gone over still stands, and it was important to take that stand on behalf of the intelligence community and on behalf of the American people".

USA lawmakers moved quickly to heap scorn on the plan, with Senate Democrats readying a resolution calling on the administration to "refuse to make available any current or former diplomat, civil servant, political appointee, law enforcement official or member of the Armed Forces of the United States for questioning by the government of Vladimir Putin".

"Say that again. Did I hear you?" he asked, appearing amused.

Russian Federation is ready to discuss a proposed new meeting between Putin and Trump, Interfax news agency cited Russia's ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, as saying on Friday.

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Coats issued a defiant statement, and in a Thursday interview on several occasions made light of the chaos that has become ordinary in the Trump administration. People were speculating whether Putin had some sort of leverage over Trump that was making him behave in this manner.

According to a leak from President Putin's inner circle, the two leaders also discussed a referendum in the Ukraine that would enable citizens in separatist regions within Crimea to determine who governs them. The White House was reported to be reviewing the demand.

Michael McFaul was the target of a smear campaign by Putin during his time in Russian Federation that accused him, among other things, of being a pedophile.

"The prime minister of Israel is going to Moscow more frequently than he is going to Washington", said Yousef al-Otaiba, the United Arab Emirates ambassador to the United States.

Bill Palatucci, the New Jersey committeeman who authored the Charlottesville resolution, said the vast majority of his colleagues felt this current situation was different.

In a telephone to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Lavrov said she was arrested on "fabricated charges", demanding her release as soon as possible.

Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, called his comments "bizarre and flat-out wrong"; Arizona's Jeff Flake deemed them "shameful"; and Lindsey Graham of SC said they will be perceived as "a sign of weakness". For instance, when I served in the White House, under George W. Bush, he came to President Bush's home in Crawford, Texas.

There was more verbal drama at Wednesday's Cabinet meeting, when Trump was asked by a reporter if Russian Federation was still targeting the US.

The diplomats "exchanged opinions on the perspectives of the further development of relations between our countries with the goal of normalizing them on an equal and mutually beneficial basis", the statement said.

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