The White House hit back Tuesday night at “absurd” media reports of an undisclosed meeting between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin during a summit in Germany earlier this month.
“There was no ‘second meeting’ between President Trump and President Putin, just a brief conversation at the end of a dinner,” a White House official said. “The insinuation that the White House has tried to ‘hide’ a second meeting is false, malicious and absurd.”
Mr. Trump held his highly anticipated first meeting with Mr. Putin on July 7 at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. But news reports surfaced Tuesday that the two leaders held a second, previously undisclosed meeting during a dinner at the summit hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The White House official explained that the German government set the seating arrangements for the dinner, and first lady Melania Trump was seated next to Mr. Putin. Mr. Trump was seated between the wives of the Japanese prime minister and the president of Argentina.
The official noted that the dinner had been announced in advance on Mr. Trump’s schedule “with the clear understanding that all visiting leaders would be present.”
“As the dinner was concluding, President Trump went over to Mrs. Trump, where he spoke briefly with President Putin,” the official said. They used Mr. Putin’s translator.
“It is not merely perfectly normal, it is part of a president’s duties, to interact with world leaders,” the White House said. “Throughout the G20 and in all his other foreign engagements, President Trump has demonstrated American leadership by representing our interests and values on the world stage.”
Mr. Trump personally took to Twitter to denounce the story as the latest example of “Fake News” from a hostile press.
“Fake News story of secret dinner with Putin is ‘sick.’ All G 20 leaders, and spouses, were invited by the Chancellor of Germany. Press knew! The Fake News is becoming more and more dishonest! Even a dinner arranged for top 20 leaders in Germany is made to look sinister!” he wrote over two tweets.
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