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As reported by Reuters, US Republican leaders have deviated from US President Trump’s preferred path and rejected the idea of a formal visit to the US from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Key quotes

“Russian President Vladimir Putin, accused of interfering in U.S. elections, will not be invited to address Congress or visit the Capitol if he accepts President Donald Trump’s invitation to come to Washington, Republican congressional leaders said on Tuesday.

The comments by House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reflect the unease among U.S. lawmakers, including Trump’s fellow Republicans, about the president’s outreach to Putin after their July 16 summit in Helsinki.  Ryan and McConnell rejected the idea of Putin being asked to address a joint session of Congress, typically considered an honor for visiting foreign leaders.  “We would certainly not be giving him an invitation to do a joint session,” Ryan added. “That’s something we reserve for allies.”  

“The speaker and I have made it clear that Putin will not be welcome up here at the Capitol,” McConnell said later.  Ryan said he did not have a problem with Trump sitting down with foreign leaders like Putin, as long as he was delivering the right message.  “If the message is, ‘Stop meddling in our country, stop violating our sovereignty,’ then I support that. But it’s the message that counts,” Ryan told reporters.

Trump faced withering criticism after the Putin summit, including from former CIA Director John Brennan, who described the president’s performance as “nothing short of treasonous.” The White House said on Monday Trump was looking at revoking the security clearances of Brennan and five other former officials who have been critical of the president.”