Trump swiped notes from interpreter after meeting with Vladimir Putin to hide details from his OWN officials, report claims

It was one in a series of incidences in which the President went to apparently extreme lengths to conceal what transpired between him and his Russian counterpart, according to the Washington Post.

Trump took possession of the interpreter's notes at his face-to-face with Putin in Hamburg in 2017, the paper reports.

Then-US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was also in attendance at the meeting and later provided a short summary of what was discussed.

But US officials only learned of the President's behaviour after they requested more details about the meeting from the interpreter, the report claims.

The President's alleged actions have meant that there is no detailed record – even in classified files – of the five face-to-face discussions Trump and Putin have had, the Post says.

Former government officials have said the President's behaviour goes against the known practices of previous administrations.

Strobe Talbott, a former Deputy Secretary of State, told the Post that Trump’s secrecy surrounding Putin “is not only unusual by historical standards, it is outrageous."

He added: "It handicaps the U.S. government — the experts and advisers and Cabinet officers who are there to serve [the President] — and it certainly gives Putin much more scope to manipulate Trump."

But an anonymous White House spokesman insisted Trump has been working to "improve the relationship with Russia".

They characterised the foreign policy of President Obama as "a flawed ‘reset’ policy that sought engagement for the sake of engagement.”

And the spokesman added that Tillerson "gave a fulsome readout of the meeting" to officials and the Press.

White House official spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the report, which cited unnamed current and former US officials, was "so outrageously inaccurate it doesn't even warrant a response.

"The liberal media has wasted two years trying to manufacture a fake collusion scandal instead of reporting the fact that unlike President Obama, who let Russia and other foreign adversaries push America around, President Trump has actually been tough on Russia."

Allies also said that Trump's actions were an effort to counteract leaks.

Months before the Hamburg meeting, Trump told senior Russian officials in the Oval Office classified information about a terror plot.

He also called former FBI director James Comey a "nut job" – and that firing him had removed "great pressure" on his relationship with Russia.

Details of the meeting were then leaked to the media.

But Democrats have described Trump's secrecy surrounding his chats with Putin as "appalling".

Eliot L. Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said of the leaders' last meeting in Finland: "It’s been several months since Helsinki and we still don’t know what went on in that meeting,

"It’s appalling. It just makes you want to scratch your head."

It comes after the New York Times revealed that the FBI were so concerned about the President's actions that they suspected he may have been a Russian agent acting in Moscow's interests.

Unnamed former law enforcement officials told the paper that Trump sacking Comey in May 2017 was one of several worrying actions that led to a counterintelligence probe being launched against him.

Mrs Sanders, the White House spokeswoman, described the FBI probe as "absurd".



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