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Bolton: Putin meeting delayed until 2019

By Danielle Haynes
Bolton: Putin meeting delayed until 2019
U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin likely won't meet again until after the conclusion of the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller. Photo by David Silpa/UPI | License Photo

July 25 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump's next meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin likely will take place in 2019, the White House announced Wednesday.

National security adviser John Bolton said the meeting, which U.S. officials initially planned to have in August, would be delayed. He cited the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller as the reason.

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Trump "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," Bolton said in a statement.

Days after Trump's meeting with Putin in Helsinki, Finland, the U.S. president extended an invitation for Putin to travel to Washington, D.C., for a summit. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted that Trump asked Bolton to arrange for the meeting to take place in the fall.

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The visit would mark Putin's first trip to the United States since 2007, when he met with former President George W. Bush.

The White House's announcement of an autumn visit came as a surprise to some, including Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.

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"Say that again," he said when told by a reporter Thursday. "Okay. That's going to be special."

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"I don't know what happened," Coats added, when asked about Putin's meetings with Trump in Helsinki.

Mueller is investigating whether the Russian government meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, whether Trump's campaign colluded and whether Trump obstructed justice when he fired former FBI Director James Comey.

Trump has repeatedly called Mueller's efforts a "witch hunt" and denied any collusion.

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During a news conference after the Helsinki summit, Trump initially said he didn't see any reason why Russia would meddle in U.S. elections. Two days later, Trump said he misspoke and that he agreed with U.S. intelligence agencies, which concluded the Russian government was involved in interference.

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