Update, 9:20 p.m.: In a statement released Tuesday night, the White House pushed back against the characterization of Trump and Putin’s second encounter during the G-20 dinner as a “meeting,” saying President Trump “spoke briefly” to Putin during “a brief conversation at the end of a dinner.” The Trump administration also disputed the insinuation that the White House tried to conceal the meeting. “The insinuation that the White House has tried to ‘hide’ a second meeting is false, malicious and absurd,” the statement reads. You can read the White House’s full statement here.
Original Post: The Trump administration’s deep evasiveness when it comes to Russia and Vladimir Putin continued on Tuesday, when the White House confirmed a previously undisclosed hour-long meeting between Donald Trump and the Russian leader at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany earlier this month. The second encounter between the two, first reported by Ian Bremmer of the Eurasia Group during an interview with Charlie Rose on Bloomberg, took place at a dinner for the heads of state hours after Trump had a more official two-and a quarter-hour bilateral meeting with Putin that was attended by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. “Halfway through the meal, Trump left his own seat to occupy a chair next to Putin,” the Washington Post reports.
Given the current climate of American politics, not to mention the ongoing investigation into Donald Trump and his associates potentially colluding with the Russians to swing the 2016 election his way, interest is high in each interaction between the two men. To add to the secretiveness of the encounter, Trump and Putin interacted using only the Russian president’s translator, a move Bremmer says is a breach of national security protocol. “The only version of the conversation provided to White House aides was that given by Trump himself,” a U.S. official told the Post. “Putin’s aide provided the only Russian-English interpretation, the official said, because Trump’s designated dinner companion for the evening was Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and the president has brought only a Japanese-English interpreter.”
Update, 9:30 p.m.: Trump tweeted out a response Tuesday night to the reports of his previously undisclosed meeting with Vladimir Putin.