Miscommunication Reigns After Trump’s Meeting with Putin

July 20, 2018, 5:32 PM UTC

A incredible lack of communication within the Trump administration has become apparent in the wake of President Trump’s meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Monday. The specifics of what exactly was discussed during the two hour meeting between the world leaders remain uncertain, but Russia’s ambassador to the United States told reporters “important verbal agreements” were made, according to The Washington Post.

There were no note-takers present during the meeting—only Trump, Putin, and interpreters. Democrats attempted to subpoena Trump’s interpreter, Marina Gross, to learn what was discussed during the meeting, but the order was shut down by House Republicans on Thursday. There is little to no precedent for calling on translators to testify, but members of Congress seem alarmed at the secrecy surrounding Trump’s meeting with Putin.

“This is an extraordinary remedy, I realize, but then it’s extraordinary for the president of the United States to ask all of his senior staff essentials to leave the room and have a conversation with an adversary,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) told Politico, in reference to the move to subpoena Gross. “And then in a public conversation disavow his own intelligence agencies and in many respects disavow his own country.”

Trump has caused confusion throughout the week with his back-and-forth statements on Russia’s interference with the 2016 elections. He said he misspoke when he said be didn’t believe Russia was behind any cyber attack, only to backtrack again by saying it “could be other people also” who interfered with the election, CNN reports.

Then on Wednesday he said “no” when asked if Russia was still targeting the U.S.—a statement directly contradicting Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later said the president was saying “no” to taking additional questions.

This ordeal was eclipsed Thursday by the announcement that Putin had been invited to the White House for a visit this fall. Sanders announced the visit via Twitter, but the news apparently never made it to upper intelligence officials. Coats seemingly first learned of the invitation during a Thursday interview with NBC News. “Say that again?” he asked when Andrea Mitchell mentioned the visit, Politico reports. Then, simply, “That’s gonna be special.”

Sanders said in a press briefing that topics discussed on Monday included, “Syrian humanitarian aid, Iran’s nuclear ambition, Israeli security, North Korean denuclearization, Ukraine and the occupation of Crimea, reducing Russian and U.S. nuclear arsenals, and of course, your favorite topic, Russia’s interference in our elections.”

Putin and Trump also seemed to have discussed the possibility of exchanging subjects for questioning. Axios reports that Putin proposed that Russia be allowed to question several U.S. citizens, including former U.S. Ambassador to Russia and a U.S. investor, in exchange for Russian interviews for Robert Mueller’s probe, but the deal was shot down after backlash from the State Department.