Trump held previously undisclosed meeting with Putin at G-20, White House says
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The White House has confirmed that President Donald Trump held a previously undisclosed meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 in Hamburg, Germany, earlier this month.
“There was a couples-only social dinner at the G-20,” Michael Anton, a senior national security official in the Trump administration, told a small group of reporters on Tuesday, a White House official told ABC News. “Toward the end, the president spoke to Putin at the dinner.”
Anton did not reveal the length or content of the meeting, according to the White House official. Anton did not immediately return ABC News’ request for comment.
A White House official disputed the characterization of the meeting as hidden in reports as “false, malicious and absurd.” And despite reports saying it lasted an hour, the official said that Trump and Putin only spoke “briefly.” The official confirmed that Putin’s translator was used during the exchange.
“During the course of the dinner, all the leaders circulated throughout the room and spoke with one another freely,” the official said in part in an extensive statement. “President Trump spoke with many leaders during the course of the evening. As the dinner was concluding, President Trump went over to Mrs. [Melania] Trump, where he spoke briefly with President Putin.”
The statement continued: “It is not merely perfectly normal, it is part of a president’s duties, to interact with world leaders. Throughout the G-20 and in all his other foreign engagements, President Trump has demonstrated American leadership by representing our interests and values on the world stage.”
Ian Bremmer, an American political scientist and president of the Eurasia Group, previously reported the dinner encounter between Trump and Putin on “Charlie Rose” Monday night, but the White House had not confirmed the encounter until this evening.
Bremmer spoke to ABC News on Tuesday night, saying he stands by the account provided to him by his sources in the room. He said the sources told him Trump got up halfway through the dinner and then went to sit with Putin and the two talked for “about an hour.”
The conversation was said to be “very animated,” and jovial in nature, Bremmer said. He added that people in the room “were distressed by what they saw,” and said that it was unusual seeing that type of rapport between an American and Russian president in a talk that lasted as long as it did with just a Russian translator in between them.
Trump and Putin held a high-profile meeting at the G-20 on July 7 that lasted over two hours, in which they discussed in part Russian interference in the U.S. election — which the Putin denied.
Before the sit-down, the two leaders also had a casual run-in in the morning, where they exchanged a handshake.
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