Another day, another series of breathless reports featuring “unfit” President Trump and his “colluding” Russian comrades. The latest supposed scandal: Trump held an “hour-long,” “undisclosed,” “private” “meeting” with Vladimir Putin. Here’s a sample of some of the sinister-sounding headlines:
- New York Times: “Trump and Putin Held a Second, Undisclosed, Private Conversation“
- Washington Post: “Trump had undisclosed, hour-long meeting with Putin at G-20 summit“
- L.A.Times: “Trump and Putin Held Second, Undisclosed Talk“
- CNN: “Trump, Putin met for nearly an hour in second G20 meeting“
But, as has been so often the case in so much of the reporting by the establishment media on President Trump, the central claims of the articles are, well, “fake news,” as Trump took to Twitter to make clear: the “press knew” about the supposedly “undisclosed” meeting and the “private conversation” was actually in public — at a dinner with hundreds of people. As for the “hour-long” part, the White House said the two talked “briefly.”
“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!” tweeted Trump on Tuesday.
“The Fake News is becoming more and more dishonest! Even a dinner arranged for top 20 leaders in Germany is made to look sinister!” he added.
After the “bombshell” reports about the “undisclosed” meeting, the White House confirmed that, as at least the European press knew, Trump and Putin did talk “briefly” while at the dinner for the world leaders, which is, of course, common practice. But the media’s characterization of the talk as a “meeting” the president tried to “hide,” a senior administration official said, was “false, malicious and absurd.”
“During the course of the dinner, all the leaders circulated throughout the room and spoke with one another freely,” the official said in a statement Tuesday night. “There was no ‘second meeting’ between President Trump and President Putin, just a brief conversation at the end of a dinner. The insinuation that the White House has tried to ‘hide’ a second meeting is false, malicious and absurd. It is not merely perfectly normal, it is part of a president’s duties, to interact with world leaders.”
As for the real news, official meeting between the two leaders, despite being scheduled to be just a half-hour, the meeting between Trump and Putin on July 7 lasted over two hours. Following that meeting, two different narratives emerged. Ben Shapiro provided a summary of the key talking points from each side:
According to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Trump pushed the Russians on election interference, as well as aggression in Ukraine and Syria; Putin denied election interference. According to Tillerson, “The two leaders agreed this is of substantial hindrance. They agreed to exchange further work regarding commitments of noninterference in the affairs of the U.S. and our democratic process as well as other countries.” Tillerson said that the United States and Russia would work together to counter “cyberthreats” and that they had overlapping goals with respect to ISIS. Tillerson even stated, “on some issues maybe they have the right approach and we have the wrong approach.”
Meanwhile, the Russians claimed that Trump had caved to Putin almost immediately on the election interference issue. Lavrov stated that Trump had accepted Putin’s denial regarding election interference. Lavrov explained, “President Trump, I’m sure either he himself or Rex Tillerson will talk about this, said that this campaign [regarding Russian interference] is already acquiring quite a strange character because for months when accusations have been voiced not a single fact has come out.” Anonymous U.S. officials denied Lavrov’s account.