Trump's White House Invite to Putin Left Even Russia's Ambassador Out of the Loop

President Donald Trump's inviting Russian President Vladimir Putin to Washington has blindsided many in the U.S., including Moscow's ambassador to D.C.

Trump called on his National Security Adviser John Bolton to set up a visit by Putin to Washington in the fall, according to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who made the announcement on Twitter, adding that "discussions are already underway."

The tweet came after mounting concern in the U.S. that the Kremlin spoke more confidently of "agreements" made between the presidents during their summit last week; however, neither the White House nor the Department of State could definitively state what those agreements were.

The invitation was a surprise even to those who traveled with Putin to meet Trump in Finland.

"How could I confirm or deny that?" Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov told state news agency Itar-Tass on Friday, after briefly returning to Moscow. "I have seen no [invitation] letter. I do not know anything."

Antonov said Russia's position was that talks between the two leaders should continue and that Moscow would endorse regular meetings: "Russia has always been open to possible suggestions, and we are prepared to speak on this topic."

The diplomat, who is back in Russia to speak at the annual Valdai forum, attended the summit between Putin and Trump in Helsinki. He joined the presidential discussion after the two leaders had their mysterious one-on-one at the start of the day.

Russia Ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov speaks during a World Affairs event at San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel on November 29, 2017. Antonov recently said he was unaware of any formal invitation to the Kremlin from the White House for a presidential visit this fall. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The fallout from the summit cast even more scrutiny on Trump's personal sympathy for Putin, contrasted with other figures in his administration. The U.S. State Department and the White House struggled to provide answers for spurious claims made by Russian state media about the proceedings of the meeting, including a controversial pitch by Putin to allow U.S. investigators some access to 12 Russians indicted of meddling in the U.S. election, if Russia could pursue ex-U.S. diplomats on unclear charges. Trump called the idea an "incredible" one before the White House later made it clear that it would not be implemented.

Trump also repeatedly veered off into topics familiar to his campaign, such as election rival Hillary Clinton, instead of challenging Putin on his military actions in Ukraine and Syria, or on cyber attacks on the U.S. election. Instead, Trump publicly weighed in on the conclusion of his own intelligence agencies against Putin's denial that Russia hacked the U.S. elections, saying "I don't see why it would be Russia" before claiming he misspoke at a later date.

Antonov said the Russian government was taken aback by the aftermath of the summit and the degree of outrage in the U.S. at Trump's underwhelming performance.

Read more: Trump-Putin summit was "more than super," it was "fabulous," Russia's top diplomat says

"We expected that Washington's reaction to the summit would be mixed," Antonov told Tass. "But I did not anticipate that the reaction would be a harsh rejection of everything that the presidents discussed.

"The presidents had not even managed to leave the press conference and I was already getting text messages from the Russian Federation's Embassy in Washington—my colleagues monitoring the press—about how severely all the conversations were received," he said.

Russian media has deemed the summit a great success, praising Putin's negotiation skills and Trump's willingness not to castigate Russia, as past administrations have. Putin has already credited "certain forces" for the bipartisan condemnation of Trump's performance, claiming those culprits acted like "pathetic, insignificant people" but actually held formidable sway.