There had been some speculation about whether the meeting would take place. Before he joined the White House in April, Bolton had made a number of critical comments about Russia, calling its interference in U.S. elections an “act of war” and suggesting that Putin had lied in the past.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week that Trump and Putin will likely meet “in the not too distant future” following Bolton’s visit to Moscow. Russian officials have sought such a meeting for months and have blamed U.S. domestic politics for the difficulty in making it happen. Trump himself has also pushed for a meeting with Putin despite resistance from senior political aides and diplomats.
The Trump-Putin summit would be the first meeting of the two presidents not taking place on the sidelines of a broader international gathering. It would garner intense scrutiny because of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into possible collusion between Moscow and Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. And it could overshadow the July summit meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, raising fresh questions about Trump’s commitment to America’s traditional alliances.