The meeting took place during a dinner hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the G20 summit. The White House, however, declined to call it a second meeting, simply stating that the two had a “brief conversation” at the end of the dinner, and there was a “clear understanding” that all leaders attending the summit would be attending that dinner.
President Trump tweeted Tuesday that news of the meeting was a “sick” story contrived by the “fake news” media, and that the press knew about the dinner. Although the press did know about the dinner, the meeting was not disclosed at the time. Ian Bremmer, who broke the story, said on Twitter that the conversation between the two leaders lasted over an hour and other people at the dinner thought it unusual.
Melania Trump was seated next to Putin at the dinner, according to the White House, while Trump was seated between the wives of the Japanese Prime Minister and Argentinean President. During their conversation, the President used Putin’s translator, the White House said, the translator accompanying him spoke Japanese and didn’t know any Russian.
The daily guidance from the White House issued for Friday July 7 — the day of the dinner and the concert at the summit — states that Trump will be attending those events, but all were closed to the press. The interaction between Trump and Putin at that dinner had not previously been disclosed by the White House. The White House said any indication it tried to hide the meeting is “false, malicious and absurd.”
Putin and Trump had held an official earlier that day that was scheduled to last under an hour but ended up going on for over two hours. At that meeting, Trump said he asked Putin twice about Russia’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 election, and that the leader denied them, even though several intelligence agencies have concluded Russia tried to interfere in the presidential election to help Trump.
“I think we get along very well and I think that’s a good thing, that’s not a bad thing,” Trump said in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network earlier this month.”People said, ‘Oh they shouldn’t get along.’ Well, who are the people that are saying that? I think we get along very, very well. We are a tremendously powerful nuclear power, and so are they. It doesn’t make sense not to have some kind of a relationship,”