Russian President Vladimir Putin with Donald Trump, Helsinki, July 16, 2018
Donald Trump has hidden details of conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin from his officials, according to current and former members of the Administration.
After a one-on-one session with Putin at the G20 summit in Germany in July 2017, Trump took the notes of his interpreter and instructed him not to discuss the encounter with other Administration officials. The officials learned of Trump’s order when a White House advisor and a senior State Department official sought information from the interpreter beyond a readout from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
US officials said there is no detailed record, even in classified files, of Trump’s face-to-face interactions with Putin at five locations over the past two years.
Russian Agent Trump?
The revelation comes amid growing concern about Trump’s relationship with Putin and whether Trump has been compromised by Moscow.
On Friday, The New York Times revealed that the FBI, concerned since July 2016 by the actions of Trump and some of his advisors, opened a counter-intelligence investigation after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May 2017. Days later, Robert Mueller took over the investigation as Special Counsel — it is unclear if he continued the counter-intelligence dimension as well as his examination of possible criminal activity.
Trump, apparently alone in the White House, spent Saturday on Twitter angrily disputing the report.
Wow, just learned in the Failing New York Times that the corrupt former leaders of the FBI, almost all fired or forced to leave the agency for some very bad reasons, opened up an investigation on me, for no reason & with no proof, after I fired Lyin’ James Comey, a total sleaze!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2019
Trump, who bragged to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov about his dismissal of “nut job” Comey a day earlier, declared yesterday, “My firing of James Comey was a great day for America. He was a Crooked Cop.” Turning to falsehoods, he denounced “[Comey’s] best friend, Bob Mueller, & the 13 Angry Democrats – leaking machines who have NO interest in going after the Real Collusion (and much more) by Crooked Hillary Clinton, her Campaign, and the Democratic National Committee”.
He insisted, “I have been FAR tougher on Russia than Obama, Bush or Clinton. Maybe tougher than any other President.”
But appearing on his favorite outlet Fox TV on Saturday night, Trump did not deny any involvement with the Russians. Set up by Judge Jeanine Pirro, a de facto spokeswoman for Trump, he said:
Trump for some reason refuses to give a direct answer to question whether he is a Russian asset or works for the government of Russia. pic.twitter.com/GyjGvVEWXo
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) January 13, 2019
Trump said he had not withheld information from his officials. He said he talked with Putin about Israel, among other subjects: “Anyone could have listened to that meeting. That meeting is open for grabs.”
When Pirro asked if he is or has ever been working for Russia, Trump responded, “I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked.”
A White House spokesman said the Trump Administration has sought to “improve the relationship with Russia” after the Obama Administration “pursued a flawed ‘reset’ policy that sought engagement for the sake of engagement”.
The spokesman said the Administration “has imposed significant new sanctions in response to Russian malign activities”, without mentioning that Trump opposed the sanctions and delayed their implementation for months.