More on Trump and Russia
Trump doesn't want anyone to know what he and Putin discussed.
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, current and former U.S. officials said.
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.
The constraints that Trump imposed are part of a broader pattern by the president of shielding his communications with Putin from public scrutiny and preventing even high-ranking officials in his own administration from fully knowing what he has told one of the United States’ main adversaries.
As a result, U.S. officials said there is no detailed record, even in classified files, of Trump’s face-to-face interactions with the Russian leader at five locations 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.
This is, at a minimum, bizarre and unprofessional. Beyond that it is highly suspicious and fits into a troubling broader narrative of Trump’s relationship with Putin.
Here is the piece’s best interpretation of the events:
Trump allies said the president thinks the presence of subordinates impairs his ability to establish a rapport with Putin, and that his desire for secrecy may also be driven by embarrassing leaks that occurred early in his presidency.
I recommend the whole piece.