White House: Trump had 'informal' conversation with Putin at G-20

White House: Trump had 'informal' conversation with Putin at G-20
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden, Sanders lead field in Iowa poll The Memo: Cohen fans flames around Trump Memo Comey used to brief Trump on dossier released: report MORE had an “informal” conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Group of 20 (G-20) summit in Buenos Aires on Friday night, the White House announced.

“As is typical at multilateral events, President Trump and the First Lady had a number of informal conversations with world leaders at the dinner last night, including President Putin,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement Saturday.

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It is unclear exactly what topics the leaders discussed. 

Trump had previously canceled a formal meeting with Putin over Russia's seizure of three Ukrainian ships and detention of their sailors. Ukraine said the sailors are prisoners of war who were captured in international waters, while Moscow argues that the ships violated Russia’s borders.

“Based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia, I have decided it would be best for all parties concerned to cancel my previously scheduled meeting in Argentina with President Vladimir Putin,” Trump wrote while flying on Air Force One en route to the summit earlier this week.

Trump's interaction with Putin comes as the relationship between the two presidents is once again thrust into the spotlight amid new developments in the ongoing investigation into Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

A slew of headlines surrounding special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow in 2016 have emerged in recent days, causing the president to once again blast the probe as a “witch hunt.”

Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty on Thursday for misstatements he made to Congress in 2017 regarding his contacts with Russians during the 2016 campaign about a plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow that never materialized. The plea deal included cooperation with Mueller’s probe.

The plea deal revealed that negotiations with the Russian government to develop the project lasted far longer into 2016 than previously known and that Cohen kept Trump abreast of the developments along the way. 

A court filing Friday also revealed Cohen was in “close and regular contact” with White House staff and Trump’s legal team while formulating the false statements to Congress. Cohen’s lawyers wrote that the false statements “sprung regrettably from Michael’s effort, as a loyal ally and then-champion” to help push forward Trump’s political messaging.

Cohen has voluntarily met with Mueller’s team seven times during its investigation and will “continue to make himself available” to the office for additional questioning, the documents state.

Trump ripped Cohen this week as “weak” and a liar following the guilty plea, and also doubled down on his attacks on the special counsel.

“While the disgusting Fake News is doing everything within their power not to report it that way, at least 3 major players are intimating that the Angry Mueller Gang of Dems is viciously telling witnesses to lie about facts & they will get relief. This is our Joseph McCarthy Era!” he tweeted Wednesday.

Trump also had several meetings with other foreign leaders at the G-20 summit, including a crucial working dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss the two countries' ongoing trade dispute.