Trump actively concealed details of his meetings with Putin: report
U.S. President Donald Trump reportedly took active measures to conceal what was discussed in meetings with Russia President Vladimir Putin, the Washington Post reported on Saturday.
The Post writes that Trump had on at least one occasion taken the notes of his own interpreter and told them not to mention what had been talked about with Putin, according to current and former U.S. officials.
U.S. officials learned of this conduct after a 2017 meeting between Trump and Putin in Hamburg, Germany, when a White House adviser and a senior State Department official wanted more information than was provided by former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who also attended the meeting, the Post reports.
Tillerson had said at the time at a news conference after the two-hour meeting that Trump and Putin covered the war in Syria and other subjects.
U.S. officials say there is no detailed record, even in classified files, of Trump’s meetings with Putin at five locations over the past two years, according to the Post.
It is unusual for these meetings of these nature to not be reported, as per past presidential standards, the Post notes, especially considering allegations of Russia interfering in the 2016 election.
In the past, presidents have relied on senior aides to take comprehensive notes of meetings and to share them with other officials and departments.
Trump allies say that the president may have a desire for secrecy due to embarrassing leaks earlier in his presidency, and to not have subordinates obstruct his ability to build rapport with Putin, the Post writes.
U.S. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement the report is “so outrageously inaccurate it doesn’t even warrant a response.”
“The liberal media has wasted two years trying to manufacture a fake collusion scandal instead of reporting the fact that unlike President Obama, who let Russia and other foreign adversaries push America around, President Trump has actually been tough on Russia,” she said.
Trump was asked about the report on Fox News Saturday night in an interview with Jeanine Pirro, and said he wasn’t “keeping anything under wraps.”
“We had a great conversation … I’m not keeping anything under wraps. I couldn’t care less,” Trump said.
The report comes one day after the New York Times reported that the FBI had investigated whether Trump was working for Russia.
Trump said that it was “the most insulting article I’ve ever had written [about me]” on Saturday, and asserted that he has been “tougher on Russia than anybody else, any other – probably any other president period.”
Special Counsel Robert Mueller III is currently investigating whether Trump’s campaign had ties to Russia during the election, but there is no timetable when the final report will be released.
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