Sitting alongside Polish President Andrzej Duda in the Oval Office yesterday, Donald Trump was asked if he expects to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the next G-20 summit. The Republican said he does, in fact, plan to meet with Putin and other international leaders.
It led to a notable follow-up question:
Q: Are you going to have a lot of people in the room with you – national security officials?
TRUMP: Well, it’s probably easier because you people are so untrusting. So it’s probably better…. I think it’s probably easier is we have people in the room because you people don’t trust anything.
So, from the American president’s perspective, it’s a problem that people are skeptical about his interactions with the Russian president. Apparently, from Trump’s perspective, he’s earned the benefit of the doubt – and the public should simply assume that when he meets with Putin, nothing suspicious will follow.
It’s not like there’s been a three-year scandal about this, right?
Circling back to our earlier coverage, ahead of his July 2018 summit with the Russian leader, Trump insisted that the meeting be limited to a one-on-one discussion, with no other U.S. officials, even members of the Trump cabinet, participating. The White House never fully explained why, but the assumption throughout the government was that the Republican would brief U.S. officials on the details of the meeting afterwards.
That didn’t happen. White House officials, military leaders, and even Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats all conceded in the days following the summit that they didn’t fully know what transpired behind closed doors.
It wasn’t an isolated incident. The Washington Post later reported that Trump has “gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details of his conversations” with the Russian autocrat who attacked our elections in 2016 in order to put the Republican in power – at one point even “talking possession” of his own interpreter’s notes after a conversation with Putin.
Soon after the article ran, Trump sat down for one of his many Fox News interviews and was asked whether he’d release information about his conversations with Putin. “I would,” Trump replied. “I don’t care…. I’m not keeping anything under wraps.”
The American president soon after rejected congressional Democrats’ demands for materials related to his private discussions with Putin.
“People are so untrusting,” Trump complained yesterday. I wonder why that is.