Trump Invites Putin To White House Ahead Of Midterms; DNI Coats Shocked

President Trump has asked his UN Ambassador, John Bolton, to formally invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to Washington in the fall amid ongoing dialogue between the two security council staffs, according to a Thursday tweet by White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Shockingly, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats learned about the invite while being interviewed during the Aspen Security Forum. 

Coats told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Thursday that he felt the need to "correct the record" on comments made by President Trump during the Helsinki summit - adding that he wished Trump had "made a different statement," as it is "undeniable that the Russians are taking a lead on this," reports Axios. 

"It was a STUNNING interview ... and is already catching heat and attention among Trump loyalists," said Axios' Jonathan Swan. "I’ve already had two phone calls from sources close to Trump expressing their astonishment. The fact that Trump’s own intelligence director is saying these things is extraordinary. A moment of true and startling independence. Reveals how concerned Coats is about what happened with Putin."

The announcement came shortly after Trump declined a proposal by Putin for an "interrogation exchange" by which the United States Intelligence Community (IC) would be allowed to witness the Moscow interrogation of 12 Kremlin officials indicted last week by special counsel Robert Mueller, in exchange for the Russian interrogation of US-Russia "reset" architect, former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul.

As we noted earlier, one week after McFaul was appointed as President Obama's envoy to Moscow, then-former President Putin "declared that he would return from the shadows and run for President again in March, 2012," according to The New Yorker.

President Trump said on Thursday that he wants to meet again with Putin to begin implementing ideas they discussed in Helsinki - which casts the Monday summit as a starting point for several shared concerns. 

Trump called the summit with Putin a "great success, except with the real enemy of the people, the Fake News Media," adding "I look forward to our second meeting so that we can start implementing some of the many things discussed, including stopping terrorism, security for Israel, nuclear proliferation, cyber attacks, trade, Ukraine, Middle East peace, North Korea and more." 

Last week the Department of Justice announced charges against 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking offenses during the 2016 presidential election, as part of Mueller's probe into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The charges include conspiracy to commit an offense against the U.S., conspiracy to launder money, and aggravated identity theft - along with releasing the stolen emails on the web.

Rosenstein said two separate Russian units of the GRU intelligence agency stole emails and information from Democrats and then disseminated it via online personas, DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0. He also said there’s no allegation in the indictment that any American was involved in the operation. -Bloomberg

The Russians are accused of hacking into the computer networks of the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, and then releasing stolen emails on the internet in the months before the election. Of course, that probably means that someone at the DOJ finally has access to the DNC Server - i.e., Exhibit A - which oddly enough, nobody from either the CIA or FBI had asked to see at the time of the alleged hack.

“The object of the conspiracy was to hack into the computers of U.S. persons and entities involved in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, steal documents from those computers, and stage releases of the stolen documents to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election," the indictment reads.

That said, the DOJ admits that no Americans were involved in these efforts, and the hacking operation did not alter the outcome of the election.