|FILE – Hermitage Capital CEO Bill Browder is sworn in before a continuation of Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 27, 2017.|
McFaul, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Moscow from 2012 to 2014 during the administration of former President Barack Obama, said on Twitter, “I hope the White House corrects the record and denounces in categorical terms this ridiculous request from Putin. Not doing so creates moral equivalency between a legitimacy U.S. indictment of Russian intelligence officers and a crazy, completely fabricated story invented by Putin.”
|FILE – U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul walks outside as he leaves the Russian Foreign Ministry headquarters in Moscow, May 15, 2013.|
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert called the unspecified Russian crimes against the Americans “absurd,” suggesting that no questioning would be permitted. But White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the idea of each country’s investigators questioning people it wanted to in the United States and Russia was being weighed.
“The president’s going to meet with his team, and we’ll let you know when we have an announcement on that,” Sanders said, adding that no one had made any commitment to accept Putin’s offer.
By Thursday, Sanders said, “It is a proposal that was made in sincerity by President Putin, but President Trump disagrees with it. Hopefully President Putin will have the 12 identified Russians come to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt.”
Russia and the U.S. do not have an extradition treaty and the 12 accused intelligence officials are not expected to be turned over to the U.S. for trial.
The reason for the confusion about questioning officials from the two countries came because Trump said Putin had made “an incredible offer” to him.
During Thursday’s interview with VOA, Secretary of State Pompeo sought to clarify the U.S. stance on the issue, repeating such questioning would not be permitted.
“There’s been a lot of noise about that, I don’t know why,” Pompeo said. “Just the American people should rest assured.”