Editor’s note: this story has been updated to reflect that the world leaders did discuss election meddling by Russia.
President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin had their first meeting today at the G20 summit in Germany, and the topic of conversation was as hotly debated as it was kept quiet.
While top Senate Democrats sent him a letter asking him to pressure Putin over Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections, and the Human Rights Campaign’s Chad Griffin penned an open letter asking him to grill Putin over the abuses of gay and bisexual men in Chechnya, it did not appear that both of those issues would be on the table; only the election controversy came up, according to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (see below).
Ahead of the meeting, in front of gathered media, Trump said it was an honor to be with Putin, who noted that they had talked on the phone before but that a phone conversation is never enough.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) July 7, 2017
Both kept things vague, and neither election meddling, nor abuses of the LGBTQ community in Chechnya, as well as Russia, came up before they headed into their closed door meeting.
What was said in the meeting is likely to remain at least partially hidden in shadows. Only Trump, Putin, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Putin’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, and two interpreters will be present.
When Trump met with Lavrov last, in the White House, he not only spilled sensitive security information, he also said he fired former FBI director James Comey over the investigation he was leading into possible connections between Trump’s campaign and the Russians.
We learned of those remarks due to notes taken from inside the Oval Office during the meeting. This meeting will have no note-takers present.
It seems Trump is not eager to repeat that mistake, nor will Tillerson wish to see the president make yet another unforced error.
While the full details won’t likely be revealed, some topics are likely to emerge.
Already, the Associated Press is reporting, based on U.S. officials speaking on condition of anonymity, that Russia and America have agreed to a ceasefire in Syria.
Meanwhile, the talk has run noticeably long, leaving everyone to speculate what else is being discussed and offered, and commenting on the length of the meeting.
Today is a day of infamy. The US president warmly greets the Russian leader who attacked US democracy & has planned to say nothing about it.
— David Corn (@DavidCornDC) July 7, 2017
(2) This lengthy (90+ minute) meeting with Putin occurs in the context of a president who refused to shake Merkel's hand in the White House.
— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) July 7, 2017
Most of the Trump/Putin meeting has been them simultaneously saying, "jinx!"
— Michael Rainey (@mikerainey82) July 7, 2017
Oh Lord, Trump's meeting with Putin has gone double the scheduled length. I wonder if we'll be the United States of Russia when he's done.
— sjcarl (@sjcarl) July 7, 2017
UPDATE: According to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Trump did raise the issue of Russian election meddling with Putin, The New York Times reports.
“He began by raising the concern of the American people of Russian interference in the 2016 election,” Tillerson said of Trump. “He pressed him more than once.”
Putin denied involvement, and Tillerson said the United States would work on a framework to get the Russian president to vow not to interfere with our elections in the future.
“It may be simply an intractable disagreement at this point,” Tillerson said.
No word on Chechnya.