President Donald Trump said Wednesday his lips are sealed about what he and Russian President Vladimir Putin say to each other behind closed doors.
Ahead of his expected meeting with Putin on the sidelines of this weekend’s G-20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, the president told reporters that while he expected to have a positive conversation with Putin, he would not divulge whether he will press the adversarial leader about election interference.
“I will have a very good conversation with him,” Trump said, adding, “What I say to him is none of your business.”
The meeting between the two leaders will come as the 2020 election heats up, with Democratic hopefuls taking the stage for their first debates on Wednesday and Thursday. Trump has done little to assuage fears that he’s not actively working to safeguard next year’s election from interference, including saying in a recent interview that he would likely accept dirt on an opponent from an foreign adversary, and that he wouldn’t necessarily alert the FBI about it.
In an interview with “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd last week, Trump said he “may” bring up election interference in his talks with Putin, but quipped that he would be doing it at the request of Todd.
The meeting will also follow congressional Democrats’ demands this week to hear from the White House records chief about allegations Trump sought to conceal documents detailing his past private conversations with Putin, and after Democrats finally secured an agreement from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s to testify on his Russia probe.
On Monday, House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings asked acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to make the White House’s record keeper available to testify about those documents, a request likely to be rebuffed given the White House’s stonewalling of House Democrats’ oversight efforts.
Trump raised eyebrows last year when, after meeting with Putin privately, he split with U.S. intelligence agencies to argue he had no reason not to believe Putin’s denials that Russia meddled in the 2016 election to assist him.
Democrats’ efforts to make the White House turn over notes from Trump’s discussions with Putin came after a Washington Post report detailing the lengths the president has gone to to conceal details of those private conversations. The White House earlier this year rejected Democrats’ demands for documents relating to Trump’s interactions with Putin.