On Wednesday afternoon, national security adviser John Bolton conducted a major league walk-back.
"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," Bolton told reporters.
And with that ended the idea of a second summit between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin sometime before the midterm election this fall. It lived a short life: Six days.
It was last Thursday when, via Twitter, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders announced that Trump -- via Bolton -- had extended an invitation to Putin to travel to Washington to follow up on the duo's first meeting in Helsinki, Finland, earlier this month. Asked about the planned second summit shortly after it was announced, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats admitted to knowing nothing about it. "Okaaaay," Coats told NBC's Andrea Mitchell, who informed him of the summit invite. "That's going to be special." (Coats later issued a public apology, insisting he meant no disrespect to Trump in his answer.)
There was no immediate response from Russia to the invite but leaders in Trump's party on Capitol Hill were quick to voice their displeasure with the plan. Asked about the potential Putin visit, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered this terse response: "There is no invitation from Congress."- Ooomph.
Then, as suddenly as the idea of the second summit emerged, it died -- leaving behind a sense that the entire thing had been a slapdash production, ill thought out (if thought out at all) by a White House and a President who loves to make decisions by his gut.
The White House would never admit they were being forced to back off a plan that barely deserved the name. Instead, "Russia witch hunt!"
The Point: Twitter diplomacy isn't foolproof.-
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