Russian President Putin has weighed in to the furore surrounding the allegation that President Trump disclosed ‘highly classified information’ to Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov during their meeting in the Oval Office.
Describing the allegation as nonsense, Putin has offered to make available to Congress the complete transcript of the conversation so that they can see for themselves that no ‘highly classified information’ and no secrets were discussed.
These are comments Putin is reported to have made during a press conference today following a meeting with the Italian Prime Minister.
At the same time, we see that the United States has been developing political schizophrenia, this is the only thing I can think of when I hear allegations saying that the president has revealed some secrets to Lavrov….
I will have to reprimand him because he shared these secrets neither with me nor with the Russian secret services which is very bad of him….
If the US administration considers it possible, we are ready to submit a transcript of Lavrov’s talk with Trump to the US Senate and Congress, if, of course, the US administration would want this…..
(bold italics added)
The highlighted words underline a point I have made previously. It is far from obvious from the Washington Post’s account of the meeting that Lavrov was aware that Trump had supposedly revealed some ‘highly classified information’ to him. If that did happen then it is highly likely that it took the publication of the story in the Washington Post to reveal to the Russians this fact. If so then the blame for compromising US national security interests lies not with Trump but with the Washington Post.
Putting that aside, Putin’s offer is to be welcomed.
As I have said previously, both teams of interpreters would have made verbatim transcripts of the meeting and it is highly likely the White House made a tape recording as well. Diplomatic protocol requires that both sides to a negotiation agree before such a transcript is published though back in 2014 Putin threatened to publish unilaterally the transcript of a meeting he had with then EU Commission President José Manuel Durão Barroso after Barroso falsely claimed that Putin had told him that the Russian military were ready to take Kiev in 2 weeks (Barroso immediately retracted the claim).
I hope that both the Trump administration and Congress feel able to agree to Putin’s offer, with both the US and the Russians providing Congress with all the records of the meeting that each of them made.