President Donald Trump has been "singularly obsessed" with formally meeting Russian president Vladimir Putin -- even if the summit risks blowing up the NATO alliance.
Talks have been underway for weeks to arrange a meeting -- which Trump hoped would take place at the White House -- against the advice of his staff, who warned the summit was politically risky at home and abroad, reported the New Yorker.
“There’s no stopping him,” a senior Administration official told the magazine. “He’s going to do it. He wants to have a meeting with Putin, so he’s going to have a meeting with Putin.”
Trump has had a "singular obsession" with formally meeting with Putin since he was inaugurated in January 2017, according to MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, but the New Yorker reported his focus has intensified since the Russian president was re-elected to a sixth term in March.
He ignored the all-caps warning "do not congratulate" during a post-election phone call with the Russian president, and the Kremlin revealed Trump had also invited Putin to visit the White House.
However, Putin balked at the invitation and has reportedly asked Austria's hard-right chancellor Sebastian Kurz to arrange a summit in Vienna, which the White House is considering.
“Putin doesn’t want to come to Washington, the senior administration official said. "Putin wants to meet in a third-party location. Originally, Trump didn’t want to do that."
Two senior U.S. officials told the New Yorker they had been briefed on Trump's order to staffers to plan for a Putin summit soon -- possibly on the first leg of his trip to Europe next month.
That would take place before Trump attended the annual NATO summit.
Meeting with Putin before those allies would be "breaking every rule we've ever had," the former U.S. official said.