SECRET TRUMP-PUTIN MEETING
President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin met for a second time on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg earlier this month, a meeting that was previously undisclosed and which took place on the same day that the two leaders met for two hours, Rebecca Ballhaus reporting at the Wall Street Journal that the White House only disclosed the subsequent meeting after it was reported by the president of political risk advisory group Eurasia Group Ian Bremmer who discussed it in the company’s newsletter and discussed it in a television interview yesterday.
President Trump left his seat at a dinner with world leaders on July 7 to engage in an hour-long conversation with Putin with the aid of a single translator, a White House official insisting yesterday that there was nothing unusual about the meeting, while Trump himself focused on news reports of the meeting he said were “Fake News” and “sick” via Twitter last night, Julie Hirschfeld Davis reports at the New York Times.
“There was no “second meeting” between President Trump and President Putin, just a brief conversation,” The White House statement said yesterday, adding that the insinuation that it has tried to hide a second meeting is “false, malicious and absurd,” Karen De Young and Philip Rucker report at the Washington Post.
The meeting was “very animated and very friendly,” with Putin’s translator translating, Bremmer revealed during his interview yesterday, David Smith at the Guardian pointing out that the absence of Trump’s own translator during the conversation may be a breach of national security protocol, an oversight the White House said was down to the fact that the translator the president took with him to the dinner spoke Japanese, not Russian.
Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnikskaya is prepared to testify to Congress to dispel what she calls the “mass hysteria” in response to reports of her meeting with Donald Trump Jr. last June, she said today, Reuters reports.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has been cleared to publicly interview Donald Trump Jr. and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort over their recently-disclosed meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya last June by special counsel Robert Mueller, the panel’s top Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) confirmed yesterday, though it comes down to whether the two men will accept the invitation, the Hill’s Katie Bo Williams reports.
The eighth person present at the Donald Trump Jr.-Natalia Veselnitskaya meeting last June was Ike Kaveladze, a senior vice president at the company founded by Azerbaijani-Russian businessperson Aras Agalarov who initiated the meeting, Pamela Brown reports at CNN.
Kaveladze started at Crocus – Aras Agalrov’s Russian-based development company – as its U.S. associate, moving to the former Soviet republic of Georgia in 1991 where Federal investigators say he immediately began laundering money for Russians. Kelly Weill and Katie Zavadski examine Kaveladze’s known history at The Daily Beast.
An interview with Kaveladze was requested by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller last weekend as part of Mueller’s probe into possible Trump-Russia collusion, Kaveladze’s presence at the meeting last year adding to concerns about Trump campaign officials’ apparent failure to vet participants’ backgrounds. Sharon LaFraniere and Adam Goldman discuss the meeting at the New York Times.