In addition to a formal meeting between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, earlier this month, the two leaders held a separate, private conversation that has not been previously disclosed, a White House official confirmed on Tuesday.
On July 7, the two leaders held a formal two-hour meeting in which Trump later said that his Russian counterpart had denied any interference in the 2016 election.
However, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Tuesday that Trump and Putin also spoke during a world leaders’ dinner at the G-20 later the same day. He did not say how long the conversation lasted or what was discussed.
The administration’s acknowledgement of the second informal meeting comes after Ian Bremmer, the president of political risk consulting firm Eurasia Group, first reported the meeting in a note to clients, according to Reuters.
The wire service writes:
“Television coverage of the dinner showed that first lady Melania Trump was seated next to Putin.
Bremmer said Trump got up from his seat halfway through dinner and spent about an hour talking ‘privately and animatedly’ with Putin, ‘joined only by Putin’s own translator.’
“The lack of a U.S. translator raised eyebrows among other leaders at the dinner, said Bremmer, who called it a ‘breach of national security protocol.'”
Speaking on background, a White House official denied that there was a “second meeting,” but only a “brief conversation at the end of dinner.”
“The insinuation that the White House has tried to ‘hide’ a second meeting is false, malicious and absurd,” the official said.