The White House slammed reports Tuesday that President Trump had a previously undisclosed meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit.
“There was no ‘second meeting’ between President Trump and President Putin, just a brief conversation at the end of a dinner,” a White House official said, reports The Washington Times. “The insinuation that the White House has tried to ‘hide’ a second meeting is false, malicious and absurd.”
The Associated Press story cited National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton who clarified that the conversation between the two leaders was a “conversation over dessert [that] should not be characterized as a meeting.”
Others disagreed, according to the report.
But Ian Bremmer, who said he spoke with two people who attended the dinner, said that Trump and Putin spoke for nearly an hour while sitting among the other world leaders and their spouses at the dinner. Bremmer is a foreign affairs columnist and the president of the Eurasia Group, a consulting firm.
Attendees described the meeting as startling, said Bremmer, who was told Trump was very animated as he spoke with Putin, often using his hands to gesture. (Associated Press)
During the dinner for world leaders and their spouses first lady Melania Trump was seated next to Putin. Germany hosted the dinner and made the seating arrangements for it as well, one White House official told the Times.
“As the dinner was concluding, President Trump went over to Mrs. Trump, where he spoke briefly with President Putin,” the official said, noting they used Putin’s translator since the American one did not speak Russian.
“It is not merely perfectly normal, it is part of a president’s duties, to interact with world leaders,” the White House official said. “Throughout the G20 and in all his other foreign engagements, President Trump has demonstrated American leadership by representing our interests and values on the world stage.”
Trump also slammed the reports, calling them yet another example of “fake news.”
“Fake News story of secret dinner with Putin is ‘sick.’ All G 20 leaders, and spouses, were invited by the Chancellor of Germany. Press knew!” he said on Twitter. “The Fake News is becoming more and more dishonest! Even a dinner arranged for top 20 leaders in Germany is made to look sinister!”
Fake News story of secret dinner with Putin is "sick." All G 20 leaders, and spouses, were invited by the Chancellor of Germany. Press knew!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 19, 2017
The Fake News is becoming more and more dishonest! Even a dinner arranged for top 20 leaders in Germany is made to look sinister!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 19, 2017