Having apparently never heard the word “optics,” President Trump is reportedly eager to meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin “with full diplomatic bells and whistles” while the two happen to attend a gathering of leaders in Germany next month.
Putin and Trump are both set to appear at the Group of 20 Summit in Hamburg in July, and the White House hasn’t ruled out a possible meeting even while the Kremlin has been saying that there’s no plan for a meeting at this point, even though both men will be “present.”
Of course, the administration is split between people who think meeting with Putin in the middle of investigations into Russia meddling in the 2016 election is a bad idea and people who think it’s a good idea. According to the Associated Press, some are urging Trump to proceed with caution during this sensitive time. How do others feel?
Trump and some others within his administration have been pressing for a full bilateral meeting. He’s calling for media access and all the typical protocol associated with such sessions, even as officials within the State Department and National Security Council urge more restraint, according to a current and a former administration official.
Some advisers have recommended that the president instead do either a quick, informal “pull-aside” on the sidelines of the summit, or that the U.S. and Russian delegations hold “strategic stability talks,” which typically don’t involve the presidents. The officials spoke anonymously to discuss private policy discussions.
According to experts the AP spoke to, Putin would have his own agenda in such talks and “knows how to redirect a conversation in his favor,” which is a nice way of saying Putin would probably trick Trump into making some sort of blunder during such a meeting. In May, Trump revealed classified information (and possibly burned an Israeli intelligence source) to top Russian diplomats, including ambassador Sergey Kislyak (who has reportedly been recalled to Russia from his post in the U.S.), so it stands to reason the sequel would be a real corker.
(via Associated Press)