She denounced Trump’s “frightened fawning over Putin” as a threat to American democracy and called on House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) to declare that the Russian leader was not — and would never be — welcome on Capitol Hill.
In response, Ryan’s office issued a statement dismissing the notion of a congressional address by Putin.
“The only one talking about inviting Putin to address Congress is Nancy Pelosi,” Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said in a statement.
The White House announced Thursday that Putin has been invited to Washington this fall, a move that caught Trump’s own director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, by surprise. The announcement has stirred speculation of a possible address by Putin to a joint meeting of Congress, an honor that is sometimes — but not always — accorded to foreign leaders on state visits to the United States.
Trump has stirred a bipartisan outcry in the days since his Monday summit with Putin in Helsinki, at which he dismissed the findings of the U.S. intelligence community and appeared to side with the Russian leader on the issue of whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election. Trump later sought to walk back his comments, but his conflicting statements on the topic have led to a torrent of criticism and a week of unfavorable headlines.
On Friday evening, not long after he arrived in New Jersey for a weekend at his golf club, Trump was again defending his summit with Putin.
“I got severely criticized by the Fake News Media for being too nice to President Putin,” Trump tweeted. “In the Old Days they would call it Diplomacy. If I was loud & vicious, I would have been criticized for being too tough.”
In a reference to his summit last month with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore, he added: “Remember when they said I was too tough with Chairman Kim? Hypocrites!”
Chinese President Xi Jinping, who arrived in Washington for his 2015 state visit just as Francis was departing, notably did not address a joint meeting of Congress: Chinese officials reportedly inquired about the possibility of such an address but were rebuffed.
Mike DeBonis contributed to this report.