Foreign policy expert Richard Haass explained the risks President Donald Trump faced in his planned one-on-one meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
The president has agreed to meet alone with Putin, with no other U.S. officials present, which panelists on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” agreed was incredibly unusual and dangerous.
“It’s almost as if he has something to hide,” said host Joe Scarborough.
Haas, the longtime president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said the meeting was fraught with peril.
“It’s beyond unusual,” Haass said. “You often have small meetings. I worked for presidents, usually the president and his opposite number and one staffer, most often the national security adviser — that would be the small meeting. Then you have the larger meeting and each side would have six or ten people.”
Trump also met alone with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un last month in Singapore, but a follow-up meeting this weekend with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went poorly — in part because the president failed to reach a conclusive agreement on nuclear disarmament.
“Last time it was done was Singapore,” Haass said. “We’ll be dealing for a long time with the fallout of that.”
He said the stakes in a Trump-Putin meeting were too high to come out with dueling narratives, which happened after his meeting with Kim.
“This meeting, of all meetings, given the stakes, given the political backdrop, given the stakes, you really need a careful record for followup,” Haass said. “You need to document what Putin said, you want to document what the president said.”
“The consequences here of the United States and Russia,” he added, “whether it’s over Ukraine, Syria, we could talk about the specific issues of the two having the same kind of reaction of the United States and North Korea, where you essentially have two different readouts of the meeting, is really dangerous.”