Trump and Putin — it’s on.
President Trump will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin Friday at the G20 Summit in Germany, the White House confirmed Tuesday.
This validates reports from the Kremlin earlier this week that the two leaders, who have yet to meet since Trump took office, would speak on the sidelines of the Hamburg summit, mostly about the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine.
Their much-anticipated meeting will be brimming with subplots.
Trump to talk Syria, Ukraine with Putin at high-stakes G20 meet
It will come after months of U.S. intelligence reports and Senate testimonies have affirmed that Russia led a cyber attack campaign on America’s 2016 election, with the apparent aim of giving Trump an edge over Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton.
Trump in the past month has been fiercely critical of former President Barack Obama after reports that he knew about the interference months before Election Day but took no action against Russia. But Trump, who has praised Putin since he was a presidential candidate, has yet to announce his own reaction to the Russian meddling.
Trump has denied ever meeting Putin, despite claiming multiple times before launching his presidential campaign that he did so and even received a gift from the Russian strongman.
The Trump campaign also remains under federal investigation for possible collusion with Russia on the campaign hacks. Trump has repeatedly dismissed this probe as a “witch hunt,” even as the investigation continues to yield apparent connections between his campaign staff and Russian officials.
Putin’s attack, our failure
Beyond that, Trump will be joined at G-20 by several other world leaders — including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping — with whom he has publicly sparred over a variety of diplomatic issues. Putin has shared in sour relations with some of the same leaders, and there is no telling how his presence with Trump might spike tensions.
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