Published: Sun, January 13, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Former Deputy Secretary of State: Trump's secrecy on Putin meetings 'outrageous'

Former Deputy Secretary of State: Trump's secrecy on Putin meetings 'outrageous'

In an interview with Fox News, US President Donald Trump said he had never tried to hide anything about his meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Trump administration "has imposed significant new sanctions in response to Russian malign activities", said the spokesman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity and noted that Tillerson in 2017 "gave a fulsome readout of the meeting immediately afterward to other United States officials in a private setting, as well as a readout to the press".

In one instance, following a meeting Trump had with Putin in Hamburg, Germany, in 2017 that former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was also present for, a White House adviser and a senior State Department official were seeking additional information from Trump's interpreter that was more than the information provided in a readout from Tillerson.

One former deputy secretary of state, Strobe Talbott, told the Post, "is not only unusual by historical standards, it is outrageous".

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform, chaired by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), has vowed investigations and has already scheduled Trump "fixer" Michael Cohen.

The Post claims that Trump confiscated his translator's notes after he and Putin first met in person on July 7, 2017 on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Hamburg.

"I call him "Lying James Comey" - he did a awful job as Federal Bureau of Investigation director", Trump told Pirro.

He added: "Anybody could have listened to that meeting, that meeting is up for grabs".

No evidence has publicly emerged that Trump was secretly in contact with or took direction from Russian officials, the Times said.

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Speaking to Fox News' Jeanine Pirro, Trump denied the reporting and said, "you'd see that they found absolutely nothing".

Former US officials told the The Washington Post that Trump's behavior is at odds with the known practice of previous presidents, who rely on senior aides to witness such meetings.

"Wow, just learned in the Failing New York Times that the corrupt former leaders of the FBI, nearly all fired or forced to leave the agency for some very bad reasons, opened up an investigation on me, for no reason & with no proof, after I fired Lyin' James Comey, a total sleaze!", Mr Trump tweeted.

"The Washington Post story is so outrageously inaccurate it doesn't even warrant a response", she said in a statement.

"Over time it got harder and harder, I think, because of a sense from Trump himself that the leaks of the call transcripts were harmful to him", said a former administration official. She also disputed that Trump had ever been soft on Russian Federation.

"The president also again defended his firing of ex-FBI Director James Comey, voicing outrage over a New York Times report that as a result of the firing, the FBI had investigated if Trump was secretly working on behalf of Russian Federation".

Trump has repeatedly criticized the Mueller probe as a "witch hunt" and views it as an attempt to besmirch the legitimacy of his presidency.

The Post's report comes as special counsel Robert Mueller continues to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election - and whether there were any ties between the Kremlin and Trump campaign associates.

The inquiry forced counterintelligence investigators to evaluate whether Trump was a potential threat to national security.

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