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‘I believe you’: The most troubling detail in the new report on Trump-Putin meetings

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President Donald Trump has gone to unprecedented lengths to keep the details of his meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin almost entirely secret, a new report in the Washington Post revealed Saturday.

His insistence on keeping top aides in the dark about the details and limiting access to the meetings — an American translator was Trump’s only companion during his two-hour session with Putin at the Helsinki summit in July 2018 — has disturbed both current and former officials, according to the report. Presidents typically rely on aides’ help in interpreting and reflecting on such meetings, and in light of Trump’s bizarre relationship to Putin and the ongoing inquiries into his ties to the Kremlin’s influence operation during the 2016 campaign, his actions are perplexing and raise the potential of corruption.

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On one occasion in Hamburg, Trump spoke with Putin in July 2017 one-on-one with only a Russian interpreter present, a move that caused many to sound the alarms at the time.

Some critics of the president in Congress have honed in on the translators at these meetings as potential objective sources of information about the secret details. But an effort to obtain the Helsinki translator’s notes, after outrage at Trump’s public embrace of Putin’s denial of responsibility for the 2016 interference, was scuttled by objections that it would undermine the integrity of translation duties.

On at least one occasion, according to the Post, Trump took his interpreters’ notes after the meeting with Putin and swore the interpreter to secrecy even from other administration officials. Current administration officials have sought information from the interpreters because they wanted more details about the meetings in addition to those that were provided internally.

The interpreters have not been forthcoming, the Post reports, aside from one detail about the meeting in Hamburg, at which Trump was joined by then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson:

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In a news conference afterward, Tillerson said that the Trump-Putin meeting lasted more than two hours, covered the war in Syria and other subjects, and that Trump had “pressed President Putin on more than one occasion regarding Russian involvement” in election interference. “President Putin denied such involvement, as I think he has in the past,” Tillerson said.

Tillerson refused to say during the news conference whether Trump had rejected Putin’s claim or indicated that he believed the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia had interfered.

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Tillerson’s account is at odds with the only detail that other administration officials were able to get from the interpreter, officials said. Though the interpreter refused to discuss the meeting, officials said, he conceded that Putin had denied any Russian involvement in the U.S. election and that Trump responded by saying, “I believe you.”

There are potentially innocent explanations for some of Trump’s behavior described in the report. Trump’s administration has been particularly prone to leaks, and he reportedly wanted to establish a personal rapport with Putin. But in light of the ongoing Russia investigation, the widespread scrutiny his relationship with Putin has received, and the blockbuster New York Times report published Friday revealing that the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation to determine whether or not the president was essentially a Kremlin asset, his secrecy will be seen as even more suspicious than it is on its face. The fact that he’s been willing to use such dubious measures despite the criticism they were bound to receive makes them even more worrying.

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Trump suggests hitting France with 100 percent tariff on wine over dispute with Macron

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According to a report from Bloomberg, President Donald Trump publicly suggested that he would consider a 100 percent tariff on wines coming from France.

The report states that the president recently made the suggestion as part of his trade war that has crippled American manufacturers and farmers while at the same time hitting American consumers' wallets.

Trump's comments came during a recent Long Island fundraiser and were tied to his unhappiness with President Emmanuel Macron and his tax on multinational technology companies.

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Gun found in FedEx package sent from US to China

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Chinese authorities have found at least one firearm in a FedEx package sent from the US, local police said Sunday, in the latest incident to befall the logistics firm in China.

Police in Fuzhou, eastern Fujian province, said "in recent days" they had received a tip about a package sent to a Fujian-based sporting goods company.

The parcel was sent by a US client and contained at least one firearm, said Jin'an district police through their official Twitter-like Weibo account.

The firearm has been seized and officers are investigating, they added, without specifying the number of weapons in the package.

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2020 Election

Trump furious with Steve King for crippling his re-election chances in Iowa: CNN’s April Ryan

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Sitting in with CNN's Victor Blackwell on Sunday morning, contributor April Ryan relayed that Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is in big trouble not only with his party over his latest comments about rape and incest, but that Donald Trump is aggravated with him too because he may impact the president's chances in Iowa in the 2020 election.

With King reeling from the fallout from his own comments made during an appearance earlier in the week, Ryan said that his days may be numbered because senior Republicans want him gone too.

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