Putin calls flap over Trump’s meeting with Russian diplomats ‘political schizophrenia’
Putin–“You know what surprises me? They are destabilizing the internal political situation in the United States under anti-Russian slogans…They either do not understand that they are harming their own country, which means they are just shortsighted, or they understand everything, and that means that they are dangerous and unscrupulous people.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s offer to provide a transcript of a controversial private Oval Office meeting between President Trump and two Russian diplomats has further fueled allegations that the White House has had improper dealings with Moscow, a U.S. adversary.
Putin said allegations that Trump had disclosed top-secret intelligence to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Sergey Kislyak, Moscow’s ambassador to the U.S., proved that the U.S. was “developing political schizophrenia,” according to the Russian state-controlled news agency Tass, which quoted comments Putin made at a Wednesday news conference in Sochi, Russia.
“If the U.S. administration considers it possible, we are ready to submit a transcript of Lavrov’s talk with Trump to the U.S. Senate and Congress, if, of course, the U.S. administration would want this,” Putin said.
According to Tass, the Russian president jokingly told reporters that he would have to “reprimand” Lavrov for being “bad” and not sharing “these secrets neither with me nor with the Russian secret services, which is very inappropriate on his part.”
Putin’s comments followed Monday’s revelation by the Washington Post that Trump had disclosed highly classified information to the Russian diplomats that a U.S. ally had provided on condition that it be kept confidential.
Reuters reported that a Kremlin aide later told reporters that Moscow had a written record of the conversation and not an audio recording.
The way Lavrov’s meeting with Trump came about has also raised questions over whether the U.S. president had been played. According to the Washington Post, in a phone call eight days before the Russian foreign minister showed up at the White House, Putin requested that Trump meet with Lavrov, who was headed to the U.S. for previously scheduled meeting with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during a gathering of the Arctic Council in Fairbanks, Alaska.
“Putin glossed over that detail with Trump, however, and once he agreed to a face-to-face meeting with Lavrov, the Russian minister changed his plans to jet first to Washington,” the Post reported.
Several U.S lawmakers dismissed Putin’s offer to provide a transcript of Trump’s meeting with the Russian diplomats, from which the U.S. news media was barred and only a Russian photographer permitted to attend.
In an interview with CBS News, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Putin was “the last person Trump needs to vouch for him right now,” adding that the credibility of any transcript the Kremlin could provide “would be less than zero.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) also scoffed at the trustworthiness of Moscow’s transcript offer, telling Fox News that “if it comes in an email, I wouldn’t click on the attachment.”
The Kremlin has ridiculed the flap in the U.S. over allegations of possible collusion between members of Trump’s campaign during his run for the White House and the president’s seemingly cozy relations with Putin. Moscow has denied meddling in U.S. elections and political affairs.
Putin warned that the United States’ anti-Russian rhetoric could backfire.
“You know what surprises me? They are destabilizing the internal political situation in the United States under anti-Russian slogans,” Putin said, according to Tass. “They either do not understand that they are harming their own country, which means they are just shortsighted, or they understand everything, and that means that they are dangerous and unscrupulous people.”
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