Washington Post: Trump concealed details from meetings with Putin
(CNN) — There are no detailed records of five personal meetings President Donald Trump has had with Russian President Vladimir Putin, The Washington Post reported Saturday, citing US officials.
The reason being, Trump has gone to what the Post described as “extraordinary lengths” to keep the specifics of his conversations with his Russian counterpart under wraps.
Current and former US officials told the paper that Trump’s efforts include confiscating the notes from his interpreter and not allowing them to discuss the details of the meetings with other officials in his administration.
The Post notes that this behavior by Trump is not usual per past presidential standards.
In one instance, following a meeting Trump had with Putin in Hamburg, Germany, in 2017 that former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was also present for, a White House adviser and a senior State Department official were seeking additional information from Trump’s interpreter that was more than the information provided in a readout from Tillerson. That, according to the Post, was when US officials became aware of Trump’s efforts.
A White House spokesman told the Post that the Trump administration has looked to “improve the relationship with Russia” after the Obama administration “pursued a flawed ‘reset’ policy that sought engagement for the sake of engagement.”
The Post reported that the White House spokesperson added that the Trump administration “has imposed significant new sanctions in response to Russian malign activities.”
The spokesman talked to the Post on the condition of anonymity and said that following the 2017 Hamburg meeting that included Tillerson, the former Secretary of State “gave a fulsome readout of the meeting immediately afterward to other US officials in a private setting, as well as a readout to the press.”
On Thursday, prior to the publishing of The Washington Post’s story, Sen. Bob Menendez, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations, told CNN that he was planing to sit down with his counterpart in the House to discuss priorities. And, he said if he had subpoena power, the first thing he’d go after would be the notes from the translator in the Putin meeting.
“I’d like to get the notes of the meeting that the President had with Putin. There was a translator so I’m sure she took notes down simultaneously in order to translate. Unless she’s destroyed them, they would be of interest,” he said.
The Post’s report comes as special counsel Robert Mueller continues to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election — and whether there were any ties between the Kremlin and Trump campaign associates.
Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion.