The Kremlin has just embarrassed President Donald Trump, again. On Tuesday the Kremlin leaked news that Russian President Vladimir Putin met with President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Buenos Aires in November. The meeting was previously not publicly known, but The Financial Times first reported on the story.
What made the news a bombshell is that President Trump held the meeting with President Putin without a single U.S. official present. No government officials, no translators, no one from the State Dept. Russia is a hostile foreign country that attacked America’s elections in 2016, and has been waging a cyber war against the U.S. political system since at least 2013. It is unprecedented to have held the meeting without a U.S. witness, especially someone to record the details of what happened.
That was embarrassment number one.
Embarrassment number two came Wednesday, via TASS, the official state media news outlet of the Kremlin.
In response to the news that President Trump had no translator or other official on hand as he met with Putin, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters (link to TASS article in Russian), “It’s none of our business whether Trump had an interpreter; Putin’s interpreter is always by his side — we have stability and order in that regard,” according to Russian Media Analyst Julia Davis.
And that sounds like a strong dig at the Trump White House. Basically, President Putin knows what he’s doing, it’s none of our business that President Trump does not.
The Kremlin responds to the reports that no staff or interpreters were present during Trump’s conversation with Putin at the G20:
“It’s none of our business whether Trump had an interpreter; Putin’s interpreter is always by his side — we have stability and order in that regard.” pic.twitter.com/TTXsD382Y4
— Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) January 30, 2019
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has made the case that Putin could be blackmailing Trump.
Mnuchin begs Chris Wallace: Take the president ‘very literally’ except on being ‘the chosen one’
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin insisted on Sunday that Americans should take President Donald Trump's hyperbolic comments "very literally" -- but he allowed for some exceptions.
During an interview on FOX News Sunday, host Chris Wallace noted that Trump had recently "ordered" companies not to do business with China.
"When the president says something, how seriously, how literally should we take it?" Wallace asked.
"I think most of the time, you should take it very literally," Mnuchin insisted. "I think sometimes he says things that are meant to be a joke."
White House spokesperson ridiculed for ‘pathetic’ spin on Trump’s trade war admission: ‘Does she think we believe that?’
Hours after Donald Trump blithely admitted that he had "second thoughts" about his trade war with China that has damaged the U.S. economy and helped set the stage for a possible recession, White House spokesperson Stephanie Grisham was forced to issue a clarification about the president's comments.
Addressing Trump's G7 response about his tariffs, widely interpreted by the press as expressing some regret, Grisham issued a statement saying the president meant that he wished he had increased his market-destroying tariffs even more.
"The President was asked if he had ‘any second thought on escalating the trade war with China,'" White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham relayed. "His answer has been greatly misinterpreted. President Trump responded in the affirmative - because he regrets not raising the tariffs higher."
Here is why Trump is obsessed with Greenland
They say that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. Remember that President Harry Truman tried to purchase Greenland in 1946; now, in 2019, President Donald Trump is trying to do the same thing.
This article first appeared in Salon.
To be clear, Trump’s farcical, “absurd” idea — to borrow the adjective used by Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen — is not happening, and was never going to happen. As Frederiksen pointed out, Greenland is “not for sale." Trump, for his part, has not backed down from the idea.