President Trump speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit in Hamburg in July 2017. Evan Vucci/AP hide caption
President Trump speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit in Hamburg in July 2017.
Updated at 2:15 p.m. ET
President Trump has denied keeping details of his meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin from his own administration.
“I’m not keeping anything under wraps. I couldn’t care less,” Trump said in an interview with Jeanine Pirro on Fox News on Saturday night.
Trump’s denials follow a Washington Post report Saturday that “U.S. officials said there is no detailed record, even in classified files, of Trump’s face-to-face interactions with the Russian leader at five locations over the past two years.”
Current and former U.S. officials told the Post that after a 2017 meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Hamburg, Germany, Trump took his interpreter’s notes and told her not to speak of details of the meeting with other administration officials.
“This is just at odds with how presidents have conducted diplomacy for decades and decades in the United States,” said Washington Post reporter Greg Miller in a Sunday interview with NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro on Weekend Edition. “He’s taking steps that suggest that there are things being discussed here that he doesn’t even want his staff to hear about or to understand.”
Then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was present at that Hamburg meeting, which occurred at the G-20 summit.
Officials also told the Post that they never received a full, detailed account of Trump’s meeting with Putin in Helsinki in July 2018. No administration officials or aides were in the room for that talk.
Pirro went on to ask Trump, “Are you now or have you ever worked for Russia, Mr. President?”
Trump responded, “I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked. I think it’s the most insulting article I’ve ever had written and if you read the article, you’d see that they found absolutely nothing.”
Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told NPR his committee will investigate Trump’s interactions with Putin.
“It’s our responsibility to try to find out, in the best interest of the country, what really has gone on with Putin and Trump,” Engel told NPR’s Sarah McCammon Sunday on All Things Considered.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, tweeted on Sunday that his committee tried to subpoena the interpreter who, according to the Post, Trump attempted to silence. “The Republicans on our committee voted us down,” he wrote.
Engel told NPR that issuing a subpoena for an interpreter would be the last resort to find out details of Trump’s discussions with Putin.
The report about Trump’s meetings with Putin follows a Friday report from The New York Times that the F.B.I. opened an investigation into whether or not Trump was acting on Russia’s behalf after Trump fired former F.B.I. director James Comey in 2017. The bureau also began a probe of whether or not the president committed obstruction of justice by firing Comey.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), said in a statement that the House Judiciary Committee, which he chairs, will be taking action.
“In the coming weeks, the Judiciary Committee will take steps to better understand both the President’s actions and the FBI’s response to that behavior, and to make certain that these career investigators are protected from President Trump’s increasingly unhinged attacks,” he said.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders criticized the Times’ report. “This is absurd,” she said. “James Comey was fired because he’s a disgraced partisan hack, and his Deputy Andrew McCabe, who was in charge at the time, is a known liar fired by the FBI. Unlike President Obama, who let Russia and other foreign adversaries push America around, President Trump has actually been tough on Russia.”
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