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Trump, Putin had second, undisclosed talk at G-20
President Trump held a second, informal talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Group of 20 (G-20) summit in Hamburg, Germany, earlier this month, the White House confirmed Tuesday.
Press secretary Sean Spicer confirmed Trump and Putin spoke at the G-20 heads of state dinner, hours after their formal bilateral sit-down.
According to Tuesday reports, in their second conversation, Trump spoke with the Russian leader for roughly an hour, joined only by Putin's translator. The meeting had previously gone without mention by the administration.
The White House confirmed that Trump and Putin spoke at a dinner for G-20 leaders and their spouses. But a White House official appeared to dispute that the discussion lasted an hour, saying the two only spoke "briefly" near the end of the dinner.
"There was no 'second meeting' between President Trump and President Putin, just a brief conversation at the end of a dinner," the official said. "The insinuation that the White House has tried to 'hide' a second meeting is false, malicious and absurd."
The White House said the two men used the Russian translator to converse because the American translator accompanying President Trump spoke Japanese.
Trump arrived at the dinner just after 7 p.m. local time, according to a pool report. He did not depart the dinner venue until a few minutes before midnight.
The dinner was scheduled to last from 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., according to an official G-20 schedule.
The president's interactions with Putin are the subject of particularly intense scrutiny in the U.S., because of the ongoing special counsel and congressional investigations into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
The official said talking with world leaders is part of the president's job.
"It is not merely perfectly normal, it is part of a president's duties, to interact with world leaders. Throughout the G-20 and in all his other foreign engagements, President Trump has demonstrated American leadership by representing our interests and values on the world stage," the official said.
That Trump was not joined in the conversation by his own translator is a breach of national security protocol, according to Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, though one that the president likely would not know about.
Trump and Putin met for a formal discussion during the G-20 summit - a meeting that was scheduled to last 30 minutes but exceeded two hours.
Bremmer said in an interview with Bloomberg's Charlie Rose that the rapport Trump established with Putin during the summit is "clearly his best personal relationship" with a G-20 leader.
"Never in my life as a political scientist have I seen two countries - major countries - with a constellation of national interests that are as dissonant, while the two leaders seem to be doing everything possible to make nice and be close to each other," he said.
During the formal meeting, Trump reportedly pressed Putin about Moscow's efforts to meddle in the 2016 election, which the Russian president denied.
- Last updated at 7:33 p.m.