Much has already been made of Donald Trump’s interactions with Vladimir Putin at the G20 conference. Now there are hints that there were additional meetings, and the Russian Foreign Minister is already downplaying those talks, comparing them to kindergartners socializing before class.
According to NBC News, Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister, was asked in an exclusive interview about the meetings between Trump and Putin. He made light of the meeting, saying:
When you are bought by your parents to a kindergarten do you mix with the people who are waiting in the same room to start going to a classroom? I remember when I was in that position I did spend five or ten minutes in the kindergarten before they brought us to the classroom.
While general mixing and socialization would be expected among world leaders at such an event, between official talks, there’s a key difference here. Kindergartners aren’t typically under investigation for collusion with their classmates to undermine the Democratic system in the United States of America.
Despite downplaying the interactions, Lavrov also expressed that there were likely more conversations — “much more than just three” — between Trump and Putin, perhaps together in a room with other leaders, or perhaps even including the pair slipping off for a more private discussion. He specifically joked that they might have snuck off to the bathroom together to talk.
News of the private talks follows shortly after reports that U.S. allies were concerned about an undisclosed meeting between Trump and Putin at the same conference. According to Vanity Fair, Eurasia Group’s Ian Bremmer described the response as ‘startled,’ saying it would have gone unnoticed by the public if others present hadn’t been bothered enough by it to call it to his attention.
U.S. allies were surprised, flummoxed, disheartened. You’ve got Trump in the room with all these allies and who is the one he spends time with?”
On Saturday morning, rather than address the story of additional meetings with Putin, Donald Trump, as usual, deflected, seeking a way to blame Hillary Clinton:
…What about all of the Clinton ties to Russia, including Podesta Company, Uranium deal, Russian Reset, big dollar speeches etc.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2017
Aside from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, no one else from the G20 conference has come forward, so far, to share any tales of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin stepping aside to talk privately.
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