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Ian Bremmer: Trump, Putin Held Second Meeting At G-20 Summit


The White House has confirmed that President Trump had a second conversation with Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit at Hamburg earlier this month, one that had not been previously disclosed. The administration confirmed that the two spoke via Putin's interpreter.

Ian Bremmer brought that meeting to light earlier today. He's president of the Eurasia Group, a global consulting firm, and says he was told of the meeting by other world leaders who were present. Ian Bremmer, welcome to the program.

IAN BREMMER: Sure, happy to be with you.

CORNISH: So what did your sources describe? What kind of conversation was this?

BREMMER: It was very warm and friendly. It was extremely animated. There was, you know, sort of a lot of hand gestures, gesticulations, that sort of thing. It was clear they were very close. It was clear that they were very much closer to each other than Trump is with any of his allies at the meeting, which I think is why they found it so disconcerting - and also the fact that it lasted roughly an hour, which I mean - the dinner itself was quite long. It was about three and a half hours. But still, you know, that's a substantial meeting and especially on the back of the over-two-hour formal meeting they had before that. And the only person that knows what was discussed is the translator aside from the two principals. That's quite...

CORNISH: And this is the Russian translator, right? The U.S. translator who was present actually spoke Japanese and wasn't part of this conversation.

BREMMER: At all, that's right. It was just - and, you know, one has to assume that that means the Russians probably have a tape of this conversation. I suspect we don't. And you just hate to see all of the vulnerabilities that the American president continues to create around this issue. It certainly doesn't add up.

CORNISH: Now, here's the White House - what they're saying about it. They're saying there was no second meeting between President Trump and President Putin, just a brief conversation at the end of a dinner. And the insinuation that the White House has tried to hide a second meeting is false, malicious and absurd. They also go on to say that it's part of the president's duties to interact with world leaders. Can you respond to that?

BREMMER: Sure. You know, I think that the fact that there was so much international attention on the nature of this meeting, one of the last world leaders - major world leaders that Trump had actually met - and you know, Tillerson, secretary of state, as well as Foreign Minister Lavrov from Russia were in the in the initial meeting, the formal meeting. And you know, they gave a pretty significant readout of it - didn't always agree on the content, whether sanctions were or were not discussed, Ukraine, Syria, all of that sort of stuff, how they talked about the hacks.

Well, I mean it doesn't really matter much what was and wasn't discussed in that meeting if it turns out there was another meeting that they had no intention of discussing. And none of us know what was in that discussion. I think that's - it's really quite startling. And (unintelligible)...

CORNISH: So just the fact that this conversation - just the fact this conversation happened to you casts doubt on what the official record was, right? That seems to be what you're arguing.

BREMMER: Absolutely. And I think it was the other leaders that were in attendance, more importantly. I mean if it had been a five-minute step-aside, that happens all the time. But I think both the unique context of the American president, the unique context of the American president's relationship with Putin as well as the actual facts here - I think create quite a story that we will have to get to the bottom of.

CORNISH: Ian Bremmer is president of the Eurasia Group. Thank you for speaking with ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

BREMMER: My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.