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Trump 'Disagrees’ With Putin Request To Interrogate Americans

"Hopefully, President Putin will have the 12 identified Russians come to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said on July 19.

The White House says President Donald Trump "disagrees" with a proposal by Russian President Vladimir Putin to have Russian investigators question U.S. citizens, including Michael McFaul, the former ambassador to Moscow.

"It is a proposal made in sincerity by President Putin, but President Trump disagrees with it," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement on July 19.

"Hopefully, President Putin will have the 12 identified Russians come to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt," she added.

On July 13, a U.S. grand jury charged 12 Russian intelligence officers for their roles in hacking into the U.S. Democratic party and leaking stolen emails and other information during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump faced a backlash from critics and many within the U.S. diplomatic community with comments made during his July 16 press conference with Putin in Helsinki.

Trump praised an "incredible offer" by Putin to allow U.S. prosecutors access to the 12 accused Russians if Russian prosecutors who are pursuing Kremlin critic William Browder were allowed to interrogate several Americans.

Among the Americans who the Russians have said they want to interrogate in connection with its case is former ambassador McFaul.

Spokeswoman Sanders on July 18 said Trump was considering the offer, although the FBI and State Department dismissed Russia's request, with the department calling it "absolutely absurd."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that "that's not going to happen" in an interview on July 19 with the Christian Broadcasting Network on July 19

"The administration is not going to send, force Americans to travel to Russia to be interrogated by Vladimir Putin and his team," Pompeo said.

McFaul wrote in a tweet on July 18 that he hoped the White House would denounce "this ridiculous request from Putin."

Browder, speaking shortly before the latest White House announcement, told an Atlantic Council panel via a remote video feed that he was "just aghast" at Sanders' comments the day before that Trump was considering handing people to an "enemy state."

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer had called it "bewildering" that Trump would even consider such a request.

The U.S. Senate, controlled by Trump's Republican Party, voted unanimously in favor of a nonbinding resolution against allowing Russia to question U.S. diplomats or law enforcement personnel. The vote came on July 19, moments after the White House statement.

With reporting by AP and AFP
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