Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump noted that his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, had wanted Russia out of what used to be the G8 “because Putin outsmarted him”.
“But I think it’s much more appropriate to have Russia in. It should be the G8 because a lot of the things we talk about have to do with Russia,” Trump said, just days before a G7 summit — minus Russia — in Biarritz, France.
Trump added, “I could certainly see it being the G8 again. If someone would make that motion, I would be disposed to think about it favourably…. “They should let Russia come back in, because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.”
Russia pushed out after Crimea
Russia was pushed out of the G8 in 2014 because of its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
It was not the first time Trump has floated the idea of Russia getting back together with the G7, which groups the United States, Germany, Japan, France, Britain, Italy and Canada.
In June 2018, Trump suggested Russia should attend a forthcoming G7 summit in Canada. A Kremlin spokesman seemed to reject the idea, saying Russia was focused on other formats.
Two days later, President Vladimir Putin said Russia did not choose the G7 and would be happy to host its members in Moscow.
Trump has periodically called for closer ties with Russia, although his administration’s policy has included strong sanctions against Moscow.
He is due to host the next G7 meeting in the United States next year.
Donald Trump called Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday to offer U.S. help fighting Siberian wildfires, the Kremlin said in a statement.
Putin thanked Trump for the offer but said a group of airplanes had been formed in Siberia to fight the fires, according to a translation of the statement. Putin said that Trump’s call was a signal that “in the future, it will be possible to restore full-format relations between the two countries.”
The White House later confirmed the call and said that the two leaders also discussed trade.
Relations between the U.S. and Russia deteriorated after American intelligence agencies determined that the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 election on Trump’s behalf. The U.S. issued sanctions against Russia both for the election interference and the attempted murder of a former Russian spy in the U.K. that the British government blamed on the Kremlin.
Trump has nonetheless tried to maintain a personal friendship with Putin. The two leaders agreed to continue discussions by phone and in meetings, the Kremlin statement said.
Putin ordered the Russian military to help fight the Siberian fires earlier on Wednesday. Russia has declared a state of emergency in four Siberian districts because of the fires. Plumes of smoke visible from space have stretched across the region to the Ural mountains thousands of miles away.
June temperatures in the Siberian districts were about 10 degrees Fahrenheit (6 degrees Celsius) above the 30-year average from 1981 to 2010. About 3 million hectares were burning as of Wednesday, according to the country’s Federal Forestry Agency.
Wildfires in the U.S. haven’t always drawn sympathy from the American president.
Trump sparked outrage last year as wildfires devastated parts of California by insisting that poor forest management by the state’s Democratic leaders was to blame. He threatened to withhold federal money for maintaining the forests even as the fires raged through Butte County north of Sacramento, effectively destroying the town of Paradise and killing dozens of people.
After a backlash, Trump softened his tone and approved an expedited request for disaster aid.
Nevertheless, Trump has proposed cutting the U.S. Forest Service’s funding for the national forest system by as much as 19%. Some of the programs designed to reduce wildfire risk, including restoring forest landscapes and the Integrated Resource Restoration Pilot, would be eliminated altogether.
Ahead of the G20 summit in Osaka, Vladimir Putin told the Financial Times that “the liberal idea has become obsolete,” a line that drew sharp rebuke from the democratic world.
But when President Donald Trump was asked about the line by Peter Baker of The New York Times, he didn’t even appear to understand what Putin was talking about, responding with a confused rant about how terrible California is.
Los Angeles and San Francisco, Trump said, are “sad to look at” because they are run by “liberal people”:
Putin, of course, was not talking about “liberal” in the sense of California or the Democratic Party. He was talking about the whole concept of Western, pluralistic, multicultural democracy, and arguing that giving marginalized groups like refugees and LGBTQ persons human rights is dying off.
President Donald Trump issued a breezy warning to his Russian counterpart Friday against meddling in US elections, laughing and smiling as he told his counterpart not to interfere.”Don’t meddle in the election, please,” Trump said, smirking and wagging his finger at Putin. He only raised the matter after being questioned by reporters whether he would issue a warning.”Yes, of course I will,” Trump said before making his joking aside.It was an off-hand moment that came at the start of the men’s first meeting since the conclusion of Robert Mueller’s investigation.Trump said he enjoyed a “very, very good relationship” with Putin, and said “many positive things are going to come out of the relationship.””We have many things to discuss, including trade and some disarmament, some little protectionism, in a very positive way,” Trump said.
When he made his playful admonishment against election interference, Putin sat beside him laughing. Trump’s aides, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, also smiled.It was hardly the serious confrontation that many of Trump’s critics — and even some officials in the US government — have been hoping he’d make ahead of the 2020 contest, which could be vulnerable again to foreign meddling efforts.Instead, it appeared to be Trump’s way of injecting levity into what remains a deeply fractured Washington-Moscow relationship.In the seven months since Trump last encountered his Russian counterpart, the Russians detained a former Marine on espionage charges and were accused by Mueller in his report of waging a “sweeping and systematic” influence campaign during the 2016 election.That’s a distant cry from the warmed-up relations with Russia that Trump entered office vowing to pursue. When he sat down with Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit here on Friday, ties between the two countries were near the lowest ebb since the Cold War.In Trump’s view, that’s the fault of Democrats and overzealous investigators intent on finding links between his campaign and Russian officials. As he greeted Putin for the first time since Mueller concluded his investigation and released a final report, there was little to indicate his view of Moscow’s influence efforts has changed or that his prickliness on the topic had waned.”I’ll have a very good conversation with him,” Trump told reporters at the White House as he was departing for Japan.But he declined to detail what he might say regarding election meddling, or whether he would raise it at all.”What I say to him is none of your business,” Trump said.
Donald Trump joked with Vladimir Putin about getting rid of journalists and Russian meddling in US elections when the two leaders met at the G20 summit in Japan.
As they sat for photographs at the start of their first formal meeting in nearly a year, the US president lightheartedly sought common ground with Putin at the expense of the journalists around them in Osaka.
“Get rid of them. Fake news is a great term, isn’t it? You don’t have this problem in Russia but we do,” Trump said.
To which Putin responded, in English: “We also have. It’s the same.”
Twenty-six journalists have been murdered in Russia since Putin first became president, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), many of them investigative reporters scrutinising governmental abuses.
Trump has frequently referred to the press as the “enemy of the people” and in February the CPJ expressed concern about the safety of journalists covering Trump rallies, where they have been the target of derision and abuse from the president and his supporters. It is a year to the day since five Capital Gazette employees were killed in their newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland. The shooting led to the organisation Reporters Without Bordersadding the US to its list of the five deadliest countries for journalism.
It was the first meeting between the two men since a summit in Helsinki last July, and since the publication of a report by the special counsel Robert Mueller, which found Russia had interfered extensively in the 2016 US presidential election, but found insufficient evidence that the Trump campaign had conspired with Moscow.
When journalists asked Trump just before he left for Japan what he would like to talk to Putin about, he told them it was “none of your business”. As they sat alongside each other, a reporter asked whether he was going to tell Putin not to meddle in the 2020 election.
Trump said: “Yes, of course I will,” drawing a laugh from Putin. Then, without looking at Putin, Trump said briskly: “Don’t meddle in the election, please,” and then repeated the phrase with a mock finger wag as Putin and the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, smiled broadly.
Relations between the two countries have been sour for years, worsening after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and backed Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian war. In a recent television interview, Putin said relations between Moscow and Washington were “getting worse and worse”.
Trump has sought better relations with Putin to tackle a host of issues, including his goal to rein in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. On Friday, he emphasised the positives.
“It’s a great honour to be with President Putin,” Trump said. “We have many things to discuss, including trade and including some disarmament.”
Trump and Putin had been scheduled to meet at the end of November at the last G20 in Buenos Aires, but Trump cancelled the meeting as he flew to Argentina, citing Russia’s seizure of Ukrainian navy ships and sailors. The two spoke informally at the event. The Ukrainian sailors have still not been freed.
“We’ve had great meetings. We’ve had a very, very good relationship,” Trump said on Friday. “And we look forward to spending some very good time together. A lot of very positive things are going to come out of the relationship.”
In May, the two leaders had their first extensive phone conversation in months. Trump said they talked about a new accord to limit nuclear arms that could eventually include China. Russia is under punitive sanctions imposed by the US and the EU and wants them lifted.
Trump’s critics have accused him of being too friendly with Putin and castigated him for failing to publicly confront the Russian leader in Helsinki over Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 election.
In an interview with the Financial Times on Thursday, Putin claimed Trump’s victory in 2016 and the rise of nationalist-populist movements in Europe signalled the death of liberal policies in the west.
“[Liberals] cannot simply dictate anything to anyone just like they have been attempting to do over the recent decades,” he said. “The liberal idea has become obsolete. It has come into conflict with the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population.”
Trump later held talks with Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro. “He is a special man, doing very well, very much loved by the people of Brazil,” Trump said, smiling broadly. For his part, Bolsonaro told the US president: “I have been a great admirer of you for quite some time, even before your election. I support Trump, I support the United States, I support your re-election.”
President Donald Trump today suggested tech giants like Google and Twitter are the greatest threat to the integrity of the 2020 presidential election — and said anti-conservative bias among the companies had a greater impact in 2016 than Russian meddling.
“Let me tell you, they’re trying to rig the election,” Trump said in a phone interview on Fox Business. “That’s what we should be looking at, not that witch hunt, the phony witch hunt.”
Charging Google with being “totally biased” in favor of Democrats and fomenting “hatred for the Republicans,” Trump downplayed Russia’s 2016 social media manipulation: “You know, they talk about Russia because they had some bloggers—and by the way, those bloggers, some of them were going both ways. They were for Clinton and for Trump.”
Lawmakers, academics and U.S. intelligence officials are in broad agreement that Russia mounted a vast online disinformation campaign ahead of the 2016 election with the aim of inflaming American political and social tensions, supporting Trump’s candidacy and depressing Democratic voter turnout.
Trump’s comments reiterated claims that he and other prominent Republicans have made alleging that tech companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter are biased against conservatives and deliberately stifle their accounts and content. The companies flatly deny these allegations.
His criticisms came immediately after an extended broadside against Twitter for allegedly blocking people from following his account on the site, a claim the president has made repeatedly without evidence.
Twitter didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. A Google spokesperson said, “We build our products with extraordinary care and safeguards to be a trustworthy source of information for everyone, without any regard for political viewpoint,” noting the company’s publicly available criteria for determining the quality of search results.
President Donald Trump on Thursday bashed former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as “dumb as a rock,” saying he was “totally ill prepared and ill equipped” to be America’s top diplomat, after Tillerson shared unflattering information about Trump with top House members.
The president’s outburst on social media comes after Tillerson met with the top Democrat and Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and some of their staffers on Tuesday. He said during the meeting that Russian leader Vladimir Putin had out-prepared the U.S. president when the pair met for the first time in July 2017 in Hamburg, Germany.
Tillerson, whom Trump fired in March 2018, left the impression that the Russians had outmaneuvered the Republican president on at least two occasions, three people familiar with Tillerson’s meeting with the lawmakers told POLITICO.
Trump denied he was under-prepared for the meeting with Putin, who he has long sought to charm.
“Rex Tillerson, a man who is ‘dumb as a rock’ and totally ill prepared and ill equipped to be Secretary of State, made up a story (he got fired) that I was out-prepared by Vladimir Putin at a meeting in Hamburg, Germany,” the president tweeted. “I don’t think Putin would agree. Look how the U.S. is doing!”
It was not the first time the president has lashed out at his former secretary of state, who was ousted last year after frequently being at odds with Trump on policy issues. Trump also called Tillerson “dumb as a rock” in December.
According to the people familiar with Tillerson’s Tuesday session, which lasted roughly seven hours, he said that while in Germany, the Russians indicated to U.S. officials that the meeting between Trump and Putin would be quick, essentially a meet-and-greet.
The Russians also proposed not having anyone present to take notes, according to Tillerson’s statements, and Tillerson and others agreed to that condition, the people said. “Tillerson said, ‘It’s the way the Russians preferred it,’” one of the people told POLITICO.
But instead of lasting just a few minutes, the session turned into a wide-ranging meeting that stretched more than two hours.
It is still not clear what the two leaders discussed; Tillerson has said cyber issues and allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election came up. He indicated Tuesday that there were other topics discussed, though he declined to go into specifics, the people familiar with the meeting said.
Tillerson told those attending Tuesday’s session that he does not recall crafting a written record of the meeting after it ended and that he doesn’t know if anyone did.
The Washington Post, which first revealed some details of Tillerson’s talks with lawmakers this week, has in the past reported that Trump took away the notes of his interpreter in that meeting. Tillerson, who could not be reached for comment for this story, told lawmakers that he did not witness the interpreter’s notes being taken away.
The Hamburg meeting may not have been the first time the Russians out-played the Trump administration, the people familiar with Tillerson’s remarks told POLITICO.
In May 2017, Trump met in the Oval Office with two top Russian officials, foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
The people familiar with the Tillerson meeting Tuesday said he indicated that the U.S. side understood the session to be a mere courtesy call with no real agenda. Tillerson also said he did not recall a designated note-taker being in the room.
“The president twice went into a meeting with sophisticated diplomatic players from an adversary with no agenda and presumably no designated note-taker. That’s concerning, because it leaves the U.S. side open to being out-maneuvered,” one of the people familiar with Tuesday’s session said.
It was later reported that Trump divulged classified information to his Russian guests. Tillerson did not address those reports, however.
Tillerson was careful not to disparage Trump during his discussions Tuesday, the people familiar with the meeting said.
President Trump said he did not confront Russian President Vladimir Putinabout interfering in U.S. elections during a lengthy phone call earlier Friday, their first known conversation since the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
Trump told reporters in the Oval Office they briefly addressed the outcome of the report, but lashed out at NBC’s Kristen Welker who interjected to ask whether he warned Putin not to interfere, telling her “you are very rude.”
“We didn’t discuss that. Really, we didn’t discuss it,” Trump said when asked a second time, adding they instead “went into great detail” on issues such as Venezuela, North Korea and nuclear arms control.
Trump added that when the report was brought up, Putin “sort of smiled” and said “something to the effect that it started off being a mountain and ended up being a mouse.”
The president said he agreed with Putin’s assessment of the Mueller report.
Trump addressed his conversation with Putin hours after White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders informed reporters of the call, which she said lasted more than an hour.
Sanders said the two men discussed Mueller’s probe “very, very briefly” but dodged when asked if Trump addressed the subject of election interference.
“It was discussed essentially in the context of that it’s over and there was no collusion, which I’m pretty sure both leaders were well aware of long before this call took place,” she said. “Now they moved on to talk about those topics.”
Trump said the discussion was focused on brokering a new nuclear arms treaty with Russia, and possibly China, as well as the crisis in Venezuela and denuclearizing North Korea.
The president’s comments are sure to reignite criticism that he is not doing enough to counter Moscow’s attempts to meddle in elections. Those criticisms reached a fever pitch last summer when Trump failed to publicly confront Putin during a summit meeting about his government’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 election.
Mueller’s 448-page report determined that Russia interfered in the 2016 election “in systematic fashion,” an effort that included a social media campaign and the release of stolen documents from key Democrats in order to help Trump.
The special counsel concluded there were multiple “Russian offers of assistance” to the Trump campaign and in some cases, the campaign was “receptive to the offer” but other times “campaign officials shied away.”
Trump has instead seized on Mueller’s finding that the Trump campaign and Moscow did not engage in a criminal conspiracy, claiming there was “no collusion” and calling the report a “complete and total exoneration.”
Members of Trump’s administration have cautioned that Russia still poses a real threat to the nation’s elections.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said last week that Russia is committed to interfering again in the 2020 contests, calling it a “significant counterterrorism threat.” But Trump has reportedly bristled at their warnings behind closed doors because he sees questions about Russian influence as undermining the legitimacy of his victory in 2016.
Sanders defended the Trump’s handling of the Putin call and faulted former President Barack Obama for not doing enough to deter the interference campaign in 2016.
“We’re actually doing things to prevent everybody from meddling in our elections, something the other administration failed to do,” she told reporters later Friday. “The president’s been clear that no one needs to meddle in our election. He doesn’t need to do that every two seconds.”
The United States recognizes Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela, and amid the uprising this week officials in the Trump administration have called out Russia’s role in helping prop up Nicolas Maduro.
In an interview yesterday, Pompeo said, “The Cubans invaded some time ago; the Russians have now followed suit. The numbers of Cubans in the security apparatus alone are in the thousands. The Russians have people working over there in the hundreds, if not more. These are the folks who are actually controlling the direction of travel for Venezuela.”
Both John Bolton and Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan also called out Russia for propping up Maduro:
Trump said today Venezuela came up in his call with Putin:
“Venezuela was one of the topics. And he is not looking at all to get involved in Venezuela other than he’d like to see something positive happen in Venezuela, and I feel the same way.”
Donald Trump, drawn deeper into an investigation into Russian meddling in US elections, has defended his pursuit of a business deal in Moscow at the same time he was running for president as “very legal & very cool”.
Trump appeared rattled this week after Michael Cohen, his former personal lawyer, confessed that he lied to Congress about a Russian property contract he pursued on his boss’s behalf during the Republican primary campaign in 2016.
In a series of tweets from Buenos Aires, where he is attending the G20 summit, Trump recalled “happily living my life” as a property developer before running for president after seeing the “Country going in the wrong direction (to put it mildly)”.
“Against all odds,” he continued, “I decide to run for President & continue to run my business-very legal & very cool, talked about it on the campaign trail. Lightly looked at doing a building somewhere in Russia. Put up zero money, zero guarantees and didn’t do the project. Witch Hunt!”
The president frequently uses the phrase “witch hunt” to belittle Mueller’s investigation, which began in May last year and seems to have gathered momentum in recent days.
Trump repeatedly said during the election campaign that he had no ties to Russia. In July 2016 he tweeted: “For the record, I have ZERO investments in Russia.”
Cohen told two congressional committees last year that the talks about the tower project ended in January 2016, a lie he said was an act of loyalty to Trump. In fact, the negotiations continued until June that year, after Trump had secured the Republican nomination, Cohen admitted.
Cohen told Mueller’s prosecutors that he briefed Trump on the project more than three times. He also briefed members of Trump’s family, had direct contact with Kremlin representatives and considered traveling to Moscow to discuss it.
Trump condemned Cohen after the plea deal was announced, calling him “a weak person” and a liar. As he departed for Buenos Aires, he acknowledged his business dealings with Russia, telling reporters: “It doesn’t matter because I was allowed to do whatever I wanted during the campaign.”
Mueller’s team has brought charges or secured convictions against more than two dozen Russian nationals and entities, as well as several of Trump’s associates, but now the president himself is front and centre. Experts suggested that the walls are closing in.
Jeffrey Toobin, a legal analyst, told CNN: “Today is the first day I actually thought Donald Trump might not finish his term in office. I think this thing is enormous.” An opinion column in the Washington Post was headlined: “Trump should be freaked out right about now.”
Democrats have joined the criticism. Senator Chris Murphy tweeted: “This whole thing has likely been a scam from the start. It’s not some wild coincidence that the Administration’s foreign policy is most inexplicable toward the two countries – Russia and Saudi Arabia – where the Trump family pursues the most business.”
But the White House remains defiant. Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, issued a statement that said: “BREAKING NEWS ALERT: Michael Cohen is a liar. It’s no surprise that Cohen lied to Congress. He’s a proven liar who is doing everything he can to get out of a long-term prison sentence for serious crimes of bank and tax fraud that had nothing to do with the Trump Organization.”
He added: “With regard to the hotel proposal in Moscow, the President has been completely open and transparent.”
Trump still owns his private company but had said he would hand over day-to-day dealings to his sons Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump when he took office in January 2017. He has repeatedly blurred the distinction between business and public office that has been observed by past presidents.
His meeting with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, in Helsinki earlier this year drew fierce criticism after Trump appeared to side with Moscow’s denials over the findings of his own intelligence agencies. After Cohen’s plea, Trump cancelled his planned meeting with Putin at the G20, citing the Ukraine crisis. Russia’s foreign ministry on Friday said it believed the meeting was canceled over “the US domestic political situation”.
The Cohen confession comes as Mueller’s investigation gathers pace. Trump has provided responses to written questions while the special counsel has accused his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, of lying after his own guilty plea.
On Friday, Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the US District Court for the District of Columbia asked Mueller’s team to submit a report next week outlining how they believe Manafort breached a plea agreement struck shortly before he was to have gone on trial on charges including money laundering, failing to register as a lobbyist for the Ukraine government and conspiracy to defraud the US.
The judge set 5 March as a tentative date for sentencing of Manafort, a veteran Washington consultant convicted of financial crimes. Prosecutors also left open the possibility that new charges could be filed against Manafort for lying. “That determination has not been made,” prosecutor Andrew Weissmann said.
In August, a jury in Virginia had convicted Manafort of bank and tax fraud in a separate case. He is scheduled to be sentenced on 8 February for that conviction.
Mueller continues to investigate whether campaign associates had advance knowledge of hacked emails becoming public. Another potential target, Jerome Corsi, has rejected a plea offer and faces a possible indictment.