News ID: 192987
Published: 1814 GMT 17 May 2017

Putin offers to give US Congress notes of Trump's meeting

Putin offers to give US Congress notes of Trump's meeting

Russia President Vladimir Putin offered Wednesday to turn over to US Congress records of President Donald Trump's discussions with Russian diplomats in which Trump is said to have disclosed classified information. His offer added a bizarre twist to the furor over Trump's intelligence disclosures.

Putin's remarks come as Washington was reeling over revelations late Tuesday that Trump personally appealed to FBI Director James Comey to abandon the bureau's investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. The White House issued a furious denial after Comey's notes detailing Trump's request, AP reported.

The White House has played down the importance and secrecy of the information Trump gave to the Russians, which had been supplied by Israel under an intelligence-sharing agreement. Trump himself said he had "an absolute right" as president to share "facts pertaining to terrorism" and airline safety with Russia. Yet US allies and some members of Congress expressed concern bordering on alarm.

Putin told a news conference that he would be willing to turn over notes of Trump's meeting with the Russian diplomats if the White House agreed. He dismissed outrage over Trump's disclosures as US politicians whipping up "anti-Russian sentiment."

Asked what he thinks of Trump’s presidency, Putin said it's up to the American people to judge but his performance can only be rated "only when he's allowed to work at full capacity," implying that someone is hampering Trump's efforts.

As for Comey, whom Trump fired last week, the FBI director wrote in a memo after a February meeting at the White House that the new president had asked him to shut down the FBI's investigation of Flynn and his Russian contacts, said a person who had read the memo. The Flynn investigation was part of a broader probe into Russian interference in last year's presidential election.

Comey's memo, an apparent effort to create a paper trail of his contacts with the White House, would be the clearest evidence to date that the president has tried to influence the investigation.

John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said late Tuesday that the developments had reached "Watergate size and scale."

Trump fired Flynn on Feb. 13, on grounds that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other officials about his contacts with Russians.

The intensifying drama comes as Trump is set to embark Friday on his first foreign trip, which had been optimistically viewed by some aides as an opportunity to reset an administration floundering under an inexperienced president.

 

 

   
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