Reaction to the revelation that President Trump held a second, undisclosed meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit has not been great. There is the "undisclosed" matter. There is the fact that it was attended only by Trump, Putin and Putin's translator, meaning that even top members of the State Department don't know what was said or agreed to.
Plus, the other world leaders thought it was weird.
The meeting happened at a dinner for world leaders on July 7. Halfway through the meal, Trump got up from his chair and came around to Putin, who was sitting next to Melania Trump, and the two then talked for an hour. He relied solely on a Kremlin interpreter, a White House official said.
This was a breach of national security protocol, said Ian Bremner, president of the New York research and consulting firm Eurasia Group, and just plain bizarre.
"Pretty much everyone at the dinner thought this was really weird, that here is the president of the United States, who clearly wants to display that he has a better relationship personally with President Putin than any of us, or simply doesn’t care. They were flummoxed, they were confused and they were startled," said Bremner.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said in a statement: "It was pleasantries and small talk." How did he know? Trump told him.
“The only version of the conversation provided to White House aides was that given by Trump himself” https://t.co/znVF4S43iK— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) July 18, 2017
Trump took to Twitter to defend the undisclosed meeting. "Fake News story of secret dinner with Putin is 'sick.' All G 20 leaders, and spouses, were invited by the Chancellor of Germany. Press knew!"
Fake News story of secret dinner with Putin is "sick." All G 20 leaders, and spouses, were invited by the Chancellor of Germany. Press knew!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 19, 2017
A few minutes later he added: "The Fake News is becoming more and more dishonest! Even a dinner arranged for top 20 leaders in Germany is made to look sinister!"
The Fake News is becoming more and more dishonest! Even a dinner arranged for top 20 leaders in Germany is made to look sinister!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 19, 2017
Twitter took to Trump, reacting with jokes and alarm:
Everyone is overreacting to the Trump & Putin private meeting. Relax. It might have been Trump's performance review.— Jim Gaffigan (@JimGaffigan) July 18, 2017
POTUS compromised. Kremlin has the only record of the exchange, free to doctor it or use it to nefarious purpose. https://t.co/rFqRaBZhrT— Strobe Talbott (@strobetalbott) July 19, 2017
The only transcript of the meeting has been provided by The Daily Show.
BREAKING: White House releases transcript of previously undisclosed meeting between Trump and Putin at G20. pic.twitter.com/WMvVIJWF1w— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) July 18, 2017
And the definition of meeting itself has been questioned. National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton said: "A conversation over dessert should not be characterized as a meeting."