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USA federal prosecutors accused Butina this week of being a covert Russian agent and working to infiltrate US political organizations, including the National Rifle Association, before and after Donald Trump's election as president.

As for Putin's offer on investigations, Sanders it was "made in sincerity" and the US hopes he will have the indicted Russians "come to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt".

30 percent of Republicans say they have a favorable view of Putin, while only 10 percent of Democrats do.

Trump brought up Coats by name at his Helsinki press conference with Vladimir Putin, then sided with Putin's claim that he didn't interfere in the elections.

But as Air Force One took off into Finland's endless sunlight on Monday night, Mr. Trump's mood darkened. "We made the first step and we can now expect our contact to develop", he told the state-funded Rossia 24 TV channel.

By the time he arrived home, the parade of critical statements had become a stampede, leaving Mr. Trump the most isolated he'd been in the White House since last year's controversy over white supremacist protesters in Charlottesville. Told that Sanders had since clarified, she responded: "There's a walk-back of the walk-back of the walk-back of the walk-back?"

He did, however, tell CBS News this week that he holds Vladimir Putin responsible for election meddling.

Asked at the summit if he believed the US intelligence community's conclusion that Moscow interfered with the vote, Trump said: "I don't see any reason why it would be [Russia]... but I have confidence in both parties".

The next day brought a fresh challenge.

At the Republican National Committee's summer meeting in Austin, the controversy enshrouding the President was largely shrugged off or rejected - with party officials instead applauding Trump's foreign policy work, including his public show of deference this week toward Putin and Russian Federation.

Russia's ambassador to the United States says that Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump discussed a possible referendum in eastern Ukraine. In the Old Days they would call it Diplomacy.

Many in the White House did not immediately see fault in Sanders' comments that the West Wing was merely considering the Kremlin offer, but it provided fresh tinder for the bipartisan firestorm. He groused about his staff for not better managing the fallout. (They told him afterwards that any journalist would have asked the same question at that point in the press conference.) Over the next few days, Trump then attempted a stunningly bad walk back, called the media the "real enemy" of the American people, and came up with some creative ways to double down and deliberately extend the whole mess.

Also a target of the president's ire was Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, who issued a rare statement rebutting the president's Monday comments.

"Hopefully, President Putin will have the 12 identified Russians come to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt", White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.

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