President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke for more than an hour Friday, discussing Venezuela, nuclear agreements, trade and the Mueller report, the Wall Street Journal reports.
“Russian President Vladimir Putin says he is willing to share details with the United States about his summit on Thursday with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, potentially raising Russia’s influence in the stalemated issue of Pyongyang’s denuclearization,” the AP reports.
“The two leaders’ first one-on-one did not indicate major changes in North Korea’s position: Putin said Kim is willing to give up nuclear weapons, but only if he gets ironclad security guarantees.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed laws punishing online media and individuals for spreading “fake news” or material that’s considered insulting to Russian officials, Bloomberg reports.
“Prosecutors can now complain about online publications to the state communications watchdog, which has powers to block access to the websites if their owners fail to remove the material promptly. Publications found guilty of spreading ‘unreliable socially significant information’ may face fines of as much as 1.5 million rubles ($23,000).”
The chairmen of three House committees wrote letters to the White House and the State Department requesting documents on President Trump’s communications with Russian President Vladimir Putin, citing “profound national security, counterintelligence, and foreign policy concerns,” the Washington Post reports.
Financial Times: “The discussions between the US and Russian presidents occurred at the 19th-century Colón theatre in the Argentine capital, as world leaders and their spouses or guests were streaming out of the building. Mr Trump was accompanied by Melania Trump, his wife, but no staff, while Mr Putin was flanked by his translator. The four of them sat at a table and were among the last to leave.”
“Mr Trump’s aides characterized the Putin encounter as one of several ‘informal’ conversations that Mr Trump had with his counterparts that evening… The accounts of people familiar with the conversation said it appeared longer and more substantive than the White House has acknowledged.”
“President Trump has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details of his conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, including on at least one occasion taking possession of the notes of his own interpreter and instructing the linguist not to discuss what had transpired with other administration officials,” the Washington Post reports.
“Trump did so after a meeting with Putin in 2017 in Hamburg that was also attended by then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. U.S. officials learned of Trump’s actions when a White House adviser and a senior State Department official sought information from the interpreter beyond a readout shared by Tillerson.”
“There is no detailed record, even in classified files, of Trump’s face-to-face interactions with the Russian leader over the past two years… Such a gap would be unusual in any presidency, let alone one that Russia sought to install through what U.S. intelligence agencies have described as an unprecedented campaign of election interference.”
“Russian President Vladimir Putin praised President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, describing the American presence there as illegitimate and the Islamic State as largely defeated on the ground,” the Washington Post reports.
“Putin told journalists at his annual year-end news conference that the Islamic State has suffered ‘serious blows’ in Syria.”
Said Putin: “On this, Donald is right. I agree with him.”
After avoiding Vladimir Putin for most of the day at the G-20 summit of global leaders, Trump had an “informal” conversation with the Russian president, USA Today reports.
“Trump drew fire for a similar encounter over dinner at the G-20 summit in Hamburg last year when the White House disclosed days later that the two presidents met without any U.S. aides present.”
“White House press secretary Sarah Sanders insisted Friday that President Trump canceled a planned meeting here with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin over Moscow’s aggression toward Ukraine rather than special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation,” NBC News reports.
Said Sanders in a statement: “The Russian Witch Hunt Hoax, which is hopefully now nearing an end, is doing very well. Unfortunately, it probably does undermine our relationship with Russia. However, the reason for our canceled meeting is Ukraine. Hopefully, that will be resolved soon so that productive conversations can begin.”
A Russian official disputed that explanation: “I think the true reason is rooted in the domestic political situation in the U.S.”
“President Trump’s company planned to give a $50 million penthouse at Trump Tower Moscow to Russian President Vladimir Putin as the company negotiated the luxury real estate development during the 2016 campaign,” BuzzFeed News reports.
“The revelation that representatives of the Trump Organization planned to forge direct financial links with the leader of a hostile nation at the height of the campaign raises fresh questions about President Trump’s relationship with the Kremlin. The plan never went anywhere because the tower deal ultimately fizzled, and it is not clear whether Trump knew of the intention to give away the penthouse. But Cohen said in court documents that he regularly briefed Trump and his family on the Moscow negotiations.”
President Trump announced he would not meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin as planned at the G-20 summit over tensions with Ukraine.
The announcement came just an hour after Trump told reporters the meeting would “probably” go ahead as planned and two hours after Michael Cohen plead guilty to lying about his work on Trump’s behalf in Russia.
“The Kremlin said Thursday that Washington has confirmed a one-on-one meeting between President Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at noon on Dec. 1 at the Group of 20 summit in Argentina,” the Washington Post reports.
Daily Beast: “Putin told reporters he’d managed to have some interaction with Trump, but it appeared limited to a brief exchange of pleasantries. Putin was spotted grinning and giving Trump a thumbs up upon his arrival at the Arc de Triomphe, and Trump was captured in photographs beaming right back at the Russian leader even as other world leaders met Putin with grave expressions. But the two decided not to hold a meeting so as not to ‘disrupt the schedule’ of events set by the French, Putin said. ‘At their request we’re not holding any meetings here.'”
President Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin “shared an oddly warm greeting Sunday when the two took part in a ceremony in Paris marking 100 years since the end of World War I. The two leaders arrived separately from the more than 60 heads of state who took part in the commemorations and when Putin showed up it seems clear Trump was happy to see him,” Slate reports.
“A photo that quickly went viral and many said was surprisingly telling, shows Trump flashing a big smile when he sees Putin, whereas France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Angela Merkel look at him much more sternly.”
The Guardian: “Trump looked on grimly throughout. The only moment he brightened up was when he saw Vladimir Putin approach. He flashed a goofy smile, all the more noticeable alongside Macron and Merkel who had switched their demeanour to steel resolve on spotting the Russian leader.”
“House Foreign Affairs Committee Republicans have rejected Democrats’ request that the State Department turn over documents that would explain what President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed in their July one-on-one meeting in Helsinki,” Axios reports.
“Lawmakers and Americans still don’t know the substance of what was discussed during Trump’s meeting with Putin, but there is no momentum from the Republican majority on Capitol Hill to compel those details from the administration.”
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen called out Russian President Vladimir Putin by name for interfering in the 2016 US election, calling it a “direct attack” on U.S. democracy, CNN reports.
Said Nielsen: “At Vladimir Putin’s direction, Moscow launched a brazen, multi-faceted influence campaign to undermine public faith in our democratic process and to distort our presidential election. Although no actual ballots were altered by this campaign, make no mistake: This was a direct attack on our democracy.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-NY) said that he was “honored” to deliver a letter from President Trump to the administration of Russian President Vladimir Putin during his trip to Moscow this week, NBC News reports.
This speech by Hillary Clinton the week before the 2016 presidential election is prescient.