Press secretary Sean Spicer confirmed on Tuesday that President Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin a second time, informally, at the G-20 summit held in Hamburg, Germany earlier this month. The administration had previously failed to disclose the talk, which reportedly lasted about an hour, though a meeting between the two world leaders that lasted a little over two hours and also took place at the G-20 summit on the same day was highly publicized.
A White House official disputed reports that the conversation lasted an hour and took issue with its characterization in the media as a “second meeting,” claiming that it was “just a brief conversation at the end of dinner” at best and that “the insinuation that the White House has tried to ‘hide’ a second meeting is false, malicious and absurd.”
Except that, if the past few months have taught us anything, it isn’t at all absurd. Ian Bremmer, the president of political risk consultancy Eurasia Group, who was first to report the meeting (in a newsletter to his clients) on Monday said in an interview with Bloomberg’s Charlie Rose on Tuesday, “We clearly know that Trump doesn’t care what the media has to say about his desire to have a close personal relationship with the Russian president and what drives it.”
Bremmer reported that about halfway into dinner, on July 7, Trump got up from his seat and went over to an empty seat next to Putin (perhaps formerly occupied by his wife, Melania, who had been seated next to the Russian president) all on his own, without a translator, though Putin had one of his own. A senior White House official said it happened during the dessert course.
According to The Hill, Bremmer described Trump’s lack of translator as a “breach of national security protocol,” adding with the utmost confidence of our seat-stealing leader that Trump probably wouldn’t have been aware of this rule anyway. A White House spokesperson said that Trump’s interpreter didn’t speak Russian that night because he was seated next to the wife of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and “each couple was allowed one translator. The American translator accompanying President Trump spoke Japanese.”
In the official meeting—which took place earlier that day and was attended by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in addition to the presidents and their translators—Putin denied twice that Russia had meddled in the US presidential election.
And here’s Trump’s response to the reports of a second meeting:
See, it’s ok, the press knew that Trump was going to have a secret dinner with Putin. What a bunch of sickos!