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Obama "reevaluating" summit with Russia after Snowden asylum

Updated at 3:15 p.m. ET

Following the news that Russia has granted former government contractor Edward Snowden asylum for one year, the Obama administration is reevaluating whether President Obama will agree to a bilateral summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in September, when the G20 Summit will take place in St. Petersburg, Russia. A number of lawmakers, meanwhile, are calling for a serious recalibration of the United States' relationship with Russia.

"We are extremely disappointed that the Russian government would take this step," White House spokesman Jay Carney said Thursday. "We are reevaluating the utility of a summit in light of this and other issues."

While he's reevaluating a bilateral meeting with Putin, Mr. Obama still plans on attending the G20 Summit, Carney said. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the president should go one step further and recommend moving the G20 Summit.

"Russia has stabbed us in the back, and each day that Mr. Snowden is allowed to roam free is another twist of the knife," Schumer said in a statement. "Others who have practiced civil disobedience in the past have stood up and faced the charges because they strongly believed in what they were doing. Mr. Snowden is a coward who has chosen to run."

Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said in a statement that it is "time to fundamentally rethink our relationship with Putin's Russia."

"Russia's action today is a disgrace and a deliberate effort to embarrass the United States," they said. "It is a slap in the face of all Americans... We need to deal with the Russia that is, not the Russia we might wish for. We cannot allow today's action by Putin to stand without serious repercussions."

McCain and Graham suggested "significantly" expanding the Magnitsky Act list, which prohibits certain Russians from entering the U.S., "to hold accountable the many human violators who are still enjoying a culture of impunity in Russia." They also suggested, among other things, pushing for the completion of U.S. missile defense programs in Europe, as well as another NATO expansion.

"Today's action by Putin's Russia should finally strip away the illusions that many Americans have had about Russia the past few years," they said.

In a State Department briefing Thursday, deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said neither the U.S. nor Putin want the Snowden affair to negatively affect the two nations' relationship.

"There are areas where we work together, it's in our interest to do so," she said. The U.S. is reevaluating the summit, "but the relationship is a broad one."

Carney said that Russia's decision "undermines a longstanding record of law enforcement cooperation... that has recently been on the upswing since the Boston Marathon bombings."

"We will obviously be in contact with Russian authorities expressing our extreme disappointment in this decision and making the case there is absolute legal justification for Mr. Snowden to be returned to the United States," he said.

In early June, Snowden leaked information about secret National Security Agency surveillance programs. He has been charged with three felonies in the United States but has escaped prosecution in Russia. The leaks, unveiling sweeping surveillance programs that cull broad swaths of data about Americans, have spurred a major debate over the balance between national security and privacy. The White House, however, maintained on Thursday that Snowden should not be considered a whistle-blower.

"He is accused of leaking classified information [and] he should be returned to the United States as soon as possible," Carney said.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters Thursday morning that he hopes Mr. Obama will engage with Putin over Snowden's status in Russia and "resolve it in a way that is satisfactory to the American people."

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said Thursday, "There is no doubt relations between Russia and the United states have not been on a positive track."

That, however, "doesn't mean we shouldn't have continuing interface with the Russians because we have a lot of mutual interests that are very important to both countries," he said. Asked whether Mr. Obama should still meet with Putin in Russia, Hoyer cited President Reagan's famous saying, "trust but verify."

"Talk, but make sure you protect your own interest," Hoyer said.

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