Trump, Putin had social dinner
Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin had an additional, previously undisclosed chat at this month’s G20 summit in Hamburg, the White House acknowledged on Tuesday.
After a brief greeting at the start of the two-day summit and a two-hour bilateral meeting with their foreign ministers on July 7, Trump and Putin also chatted over dinner on the final night of the summit, an official said.
“There was a couples-only social dinner at the G20,” a White House official told AFP. “Toward the end, the president spoke to Putin at the dinner.”
The disclosure has raised questions about what the pair talked about, who was present and why the meeting was not previously mentioned. The lack of a US translator raised eyebrows among other leaders at the dinner who called it a “breach of national security protocol.”
Trump late Tuesday took to Twitter to blast the suggestion that there was anything improper about his dinner chat with Putin.
“Fake News story of secret dinner with Putin is ‘sick.’ All G20 leaders, and spouses, were invited by the Chancellor of Germany. Press knew!” he declared.
“The Fake News is becoming more and more dishonest! Even a dinner arranged for top 20 leaders in Germany is made to look sinister!”
Meanwhile, the Russian lawyer at the heart of the scandal over a meeting with Trump’s eldest son claimed yesterday she is ready to testify to the US Congress.
Lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya attended a meeting with Donald Trump Jr during the election campaign in June 2016 at which it appears he expected to get incriminating information from the Russian government on his father’s rival Hillary Clinton.
Trump Jr had been told by email that a “Russian government attorney” would provide damaging details. Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and son-in-law Jared Kushner also attended.
Veselnitskaya has rejected claims that she was working on behalf of the Russian government, while Trump Jr insists that no sensitive information was passed on.
The US State Department said Tuesday senior diplomats from Washington and Moscow held a “tough, forthright” conversation on Monday concerning bilateral tensions, including over Russian access to diplomatic compounds in the US.
The Kremlin has demanded Washington restore diplomatic access to two compounds in the states of New York and Maryland, which the Obama administration restricted in December following initial suspicions of Russian meddling in the 2016 US election.
On Tuesday, the White House said President Trump has tapped veteran diplomat and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman as ambassador to Russia.
Huntsman, 57, previously served as US ambassador to China and Singapore.
If confirmed by the US Senate, Huntsman would venture to Moscow for a job that will be particularly high-profile as a special counsel in Washington probes the ever-growing Russia scandal plaguing the White House.