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Senate Votes 98-0 to Reject Putin's Offer

Russian president suggested Russia could help US in return for being allowed to question Americans
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 19, 2018 7:00 PM CDT
Updated Jul 20, 2018 12:20 AM CDT
In this July 16, 2018, photo, U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shake hands at the beginning of a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(Newser) – The Senate on Thursday shot down a proposal from Vladimir Putin to allow Russia to interrogate US officials in exchange for Russia's help with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election, voting 98-0 in favor of a resolution rejecting it. The White House had announced on Wednesday that it was entertaining the idea, but on Thursday, just before the Senate vote, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said it was no longer under consideration, CNN reports. "It is a proposal that was made in sincerity by President Putin, but President Trump disagrees with it," she said. "Hopefully President Putin will have the 12 identified Russians come to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt." Sanders also confirmed Thursday that Trump has invited Putin to DC for a second summit in the fall, CNN reports.

During his summit with Trump this week, Putin suggested Mueller's team could come to Russia to question the 12 Russians charged with tampering in the US election—if Russia was in turn allowed to question "fugitives on American soil" including Michael McFaul, former US ambassador to Russia, and financier Bill Browder, who successfully lobbied the US government to impose new sanctions on Moscow. A State Department rep had slammed the idea, calling Russia's assertions against 11 American citizens "absolutely absurd." And before Thursday's vote, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called on Trump "to say once and for all not through his spokespeople that the lopsided disgraceful trade he called an 'incredible offer' is now off the table." The vote came as reports were still muddled over exactly what Trump and Putin discussed; US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said Thursday he doesn't know what happened in the meeting. (Read more US-Russia relations stories.)

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