Donald Trump looks on as Saudi Arabia’s Mohammad bin Salman and Russia’s Vladimir Putin greet each other, Buenos Aires, Argentina, November 30, 2018

Donald Trump attends the G20 summit in Argentina, but finds himself entangled in the approaching Trump-Russia investigation following revelations about political and business links with Moscow and WikiLeaks.

Soon after he landed in Buenos Aires, Trump confronted Thursday’s statement by his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen that the Trump Organization’s pursuit of a Trump Tower in Moscow lasted until June 2016 — when Trump was on the verge of the Republican nomination and as Russia was hacking Democrat computers to steal e-mails that could tarnish Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Up to Thursday, Trump had lied that he had no business interests involving Russia. He was forced to backtrack in a statement to reporters — “Why should I lose lots of opportunities?” — and tweeted yesterday:

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Cohen’s lawyers maintained pressure on Trump in a Friday night court filing asking that their client be given no prison time.

The attorneys wrote that Cohen kept Trump apprised of his communications over the Moscow Trump Tower project, which included a “lengthy substantive conversation” with a personal assistant to a top Kremlin official — possibly a reference to a representative of Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov — and other communications “as late as June 2016”.

The filing also said Cohen discussed with Trump the idea that the candidate travel to Russia in the summer 2016.

“Michael took steps to clear dates for such travel,” the attorneys wrote.

File footage of Trump in 2011:

Putin Upstages Trump at G20

As he flew to Argentina, Trump abruptly cancelled his planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The White House insisted that the decision had nothing to do with Cohen and was instead about Moscow’s seizure of Ukrainian ships and sailors in a dispute over the waters around Crimea.

Trump had to stand aside as the spotlight was grabbed by Putin and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Sultan. The two men greeted each other with a high-five in a moment which defied international criticism of the Crown Prince over his alleged responsibility for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi on October 2.

The headline encounter overshadowed Trump’s Friday centerpiece, the signing of the revised North America Free Trade Agreement with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and outgoing Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.

The accord has been renamed the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement to fit Trump’s declaration of an end of the “worst deal” of NAFTA. In fact, many of its revised clauses — agreed after months of Trump Administration hostility towards Ottawa — fit Canadian objectives, and Trudeau pointedly called it a “new North American Free Trade Agreement” on Friday.

The pact still must be approved by the US Congress, and US industries and agricultural interests, as well as Mexcio and Canada, are still unhappy about Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Trump tried to regain position with comments about his Saturday evening meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

Trump has launched a trade war with Beijing, imposing tariffs on about half of Chinese exports to the US and scheduling a rise in duty from 10% of 25% on January 1. But tipping off his strategy of an aggressive position to force concessions for a “victory”, he told reporters:

We’re working very hard. If we can make a deal, that’d be good. I think they want to; I think we’d like to. And we’ll see. There’s some good signs.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer echoed, “I would be very surprised if the dinner is not a success…. I’m sure at the end there will be a positive feeling by both men.”