White House admits Trump, Putin held second meeting at G20 summit

UPDATE 2 — 7/20, 10:38 a.m. EDT: Two anonymous White House aides told AP Thursday the president’s critical comments about Jeff Sessions published Wednesday does not mean Trump wants to fire his attorney general, but expresses an anger toward the former Alabama senator which has been festering since his recusal from DOJ’s Russia investigation.

One of Trump’s advisers also said Sessions previously offered to quit over the matter, but Trump refused to accept his resignation.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Sessions affirmed he will stay on as America’s chief prosecutor.

“We love this job. We love this department, and I plan to continue to do so as long as that is appropriate,” he said.

 

UPDATE — 8:33 p.m. EDT: In an interview with the New York Times released Wednesday, President Trump said he wouldn’t have nominated Jeff Sessions for attorney general if he knew the former Alabama senator was going to recuse himself from the FBI’s investigation of Russian contact with Trump’s campaign.

“How do you take a job and then recuse yourself?” Trump said. “If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the president.”

Trump also lambasted Sessions for his confirmation hearing testimony in which he swore never having met with a Russian agent during election season.

“Jeff Sessions gave some bad answers. He gave some answers that were simple questions and should have been simple answers, but they weren’t.”

 

The White House acknowledged Tuesday Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in a previously undisclosed meeting during the recent G20 summit conference in Hamburg, Germany.

The second meeting followed hours after a widely-publicized bilateral conversation at the G20 on July 7.  Originally scheduled to last a half hour, the announced meeting stretched beyond two hours.

According to reports, the second meeting occurred during a state dinner held for world leaders and spouses.

As stated by global political expert Ian Bremmer, president of the international consulting firm Eurasia Group who witnessed the meeting, Mr. Trump left his seat during dinner and sat next to Mr. Putin to engage in conversation. The talk was described as friendly and apparently lasted one hour.

“Donald Trump got up from the table and sat down with Putin for about an hour. It was very animated and very friendly,” Bremmer recounted.

Writing about what he saw in a company newsletter, Bremmer stated only Mr. Putin’s translator was present when the two men spoke.  Bremmer revealed what he witnessed during a Tuesday interview with Charlie Rose.

Neither the White House nor the Kremlin revealed the substance of the conversation, but President Trump erupted on Twitter late Tuesday: “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!” he wrote.

Minutes later, the president sent out another tweet complaining that, “Even a dinner arranged for top 20 leaders in Germany is made to look sinister!”

 

[The Guardian] [Bloomberg] [AP] [Photo courtesy Reuters via RT]