President Donald Trump has taken drastic measures to conceal his private conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to a report in the Washington Post on Saturday. The bombshell story comes just one day after the New York Times revealed that the FBI opened a joint counterintelligence and criminal investigation into whether the president was working for Russia against American interests when he fired FBI Director James Comey in 2017.
Putin and Trump have met five times during Trump’s presidency, and few in the administration are aware of what the two leaders discussed behind closed doors. On one occasion, Trump even went so far as to confiscate his interpreter’s notes to prevent others from knowing what was discussed. Not even classified detailed records exist to document Trump and Putin’s conversations.
President Trump addressed the Post’s reporting during an on-air phone call with Fox News host Jeanine Pirro and denied the allegations. “Anyone could have listened to that meeting. That meeting is open for grabs,” he said, referring to a conversation with Putin about Israel.
Pirro then asked the president if he has ever worked on behalf of Russia, and Trump replied, “I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked,” but did not issue an outright denial.
Needless to say, this is all very unusual behavior for a United States president, and Trump has not attempted to conceal his interactions with other world leaders.
Former deputy secretary of state Strobe Talbott told the Post that Trump’s behavior “is not only unusual by historical standards, it is outrageous.” And, he added, “It handicaps the U.S. government — the experts and advisers and Cabinet officers who are there to serve [the president] — and it certainly gives Putin much more scope to manipulate Trump.”
With Democrats taking over the House, though, Trump can expect that they will be launching investigations to find out exactly what the two men talked about.
“Every time Trump meets with Putin, the country is told nothing. America deserves the truth and the Foreign Affairs Committee will seek to get to the bottom of it,” said Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.