Donald Trump's recent meeting in Germany with Russian President Vladimir Putin was one of the more important diplomatic moments of the year. It was, after all, Putin's intervention in the American election that helped put Trump in power, and so their private meeting was a subject of considerable scrutiny.
The presidential chat was originally scheduled for 30 minutes, but it ended up lasting over two hours. Evidently, however, this was not the only encounter between the two leaders.
President Donald Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin a second time during the G-20 summit earlier this month, a White House official confirmed to NBC News Tuesday.Trump spoke to Putin at the end of a couples-only social dinner at the summit in Hamburg, Germany, the official said, reiterating it was a social dinner.
This second interaction was first uncovered by Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, who appeared on the show last night.
In a breach of diplomatic protocol, there were no U.S. officials present at this second encounter: the chat was limited to the American president, the Russian president, and Putin's interpreter. There's no official U.S. account or readout, obviously, because Trump was the only American there.
What's more, for reasons that are unclear, the White House didn't disclose this second conversation between Trump and Putin. As Rachel noted on the show, if there's one thing administration officials should be mindful of right now, it's that undisclosed interactions between Team Trump and Putin's government is a subject of considerable interest.
The New York Times' report added, "The dinner discussion caught the attention of other leaders around the table, some of whom later remarked privately on the odd spectacle of an American president seeming to single out the Russian leader for special attention at a summit meeting that included some of the United States’ staunchest, oldest allies."
There's no shortage of questions about this. Why was the first, longer-than-scheduled meeting not enough? Why didn't the White House disclose this second encounter? What did Trump say in this other private chat? Why did Trump give special, favorable attention to a foreign antagonist responsible for the most serious attack on the United States since 9/11?
And finally, how much crazier can this story get?