The president’s interest in a meeting with Putin became public in March after the Kremlin disclosed that Trump extended an invitation in a phone call with the Russian leader. But U.S. officials say Trump privately has been asking his aides for a bilateral meeting ever since he met with Putin in Vietnam in November on the sidelines of a multilateral economic summit.
“After that meeting, the president said he wanted to invite Putin to the White House,” one U.S. official said. “We ignored it.”
At the time, top aides in the National Security Council opposed the idea of a meeting and said they didn’t view Trump’s interest in a summit as an order to set one up. “They decided: Let’s wait and see if he raises it again,” said the official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive issue.