Aside from the “cheering” crowds he was reportedly promised by Poland, Donald Trump’s second trip abroad for the upcoming G-20 summit will also include his first face-to-face meeting with Vladimir Putin. The two previously talked on the phone in January, when the Russian president called his newly-inaugurated American counterpart to congratulate him. Yet this week’s meeting is shrouded in anticipation, especially since the ongoing Russian hacking scandal may come up when the two sit down to chat. That, or it won’t.
The New York Times reports aides worry about the “diplomatic and political risk” of Trump’s first one-on-one meeting with Putin — though not just because of the expanding investigation into possible campaign collusion. Administration sources told the paper they “expected the men to bond over their disdain for ‘fake news,'” and that they worry Trump’s attempt to find common ground with the Russian president will simply play into the latter’s hands. After all, the Times describes him as “a canny one-on-one operator who once brought a Labrador to a meeting with Ms. Merkel because he knew she was afraid of dogs.” (No really, he did.)
“You don’t want to come out of there saying, ‘We’re friends, and the enemy is the deep state and the media,'” former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael A. McFaul explained. “If it were somebody else other than Trump, you could imagine a tough conversation about Ukraine and election meddling, but that’s probably too optimistic. Politics does constrain, I think, the parameters of the possible for any kind of major breakthrough.”
Luckily for Trump, Putin probably won’t pull his bring-a-dog-to-the-meeting trick since the former doesn’t really seem to care about pets too much. So what, then, will the Russian president do to control their first face-to-face? (And will it have something to do with a Saturday Night Live cold open?)
(Via New York Times)