“One day, you’ll be president…”
That ‘proud dad’ look.
Andy Borowitz – saying it as it is.
President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin have concluded their first, highly anticipated in-person meeting since the U.S. presidential election. The meeting, which was expected to last just 30 minutes, lasted two hours and 16 minutes, according to a senior adviser to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
“It’s an honor to be with you,” Trump said to President Putin at the beginning of their meeting. Awwwww!
“President Putin and I have been discussing various things. I think it’s going very well, we’ve had some very, very good talks,” Trump told reporters who were allowed into the room briefly. Trump added, “We look forward to a lot of very positive things happening for Russia, for the United States, and for everybody concerned.” Should everybody concerned be concerned or not just yet? Because with these two involved, we are talking the planet Earth level of concern.
Putin said beforehand that he was “delighted” to meet with Trump personally and hoped their meeting would “yield positive results.” The Russian president said while he and Trump have spoken over the phone – three times since Trump took office – such calls are “never enough.” That depends…
Before their high-stakes sit-down, the two leaders had a casual run-in this morning where they exchanged a handshake.
Handshakes in the Trumpworld deserve a separate paragraph or two.
The Guardian reports that Putin had intended it to be the briefest of handshakes, forgetting there is no such thing as a quick handshake with Donald Trump. The US president had thrust out a clammy right paw, grabbed hold of his arm with his left hand and then pumped it enthusiastically for rather longer than was comfortable.
By the time the two world leaders met for their bilateral meeting in the afternoon, Putin was better prepared. For the obligatory photo opportunity at the beginning of the talks, he and Trump were seated in adjacent armchairs with translators and officials to one side. Their body language could hardly have been worse. Trump was perched on the edge of his chair, trying to appear in control though just looking a bit needy. Putin sat back in his, determined to make little or no eye contact. The American president stuck out a hand, which Putin accepted. This time Trump kept his other hand by his side. There was not doubt in the room who the real boss was.
Big day today as Trump will soon sit down for his first meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. The meeting will likely overshadow anything else that Trump does at the G-20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany.
What will Trump say about Russian meddling, if anything?
Trump previously said: “I agree, I think it was Russia — but I think it was probably other people and/or countries. And I see nothing wrong with that statement. Nobody really knows. Nobody really knows for sure.” Nobody knows is such a good strategy, if only he did not have the FBI, CIA and NSA, all very capable investigative organisations.
Who will be there?
The meeting will reportedly be a small one, including only Trump and Putin, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, and two interpreters.
Assuming there are no last minute changes, that means there will be no place for Fiona Hill, a White House advisor who is more hawkish than some other Trump confidants when it comes to Russia. There has been speculation that some within the White House orbit were pushing for Hill to be included in the meeting, in part to counter suggestions that it would be an overly chummy affair.
What will the body language be like?
Trump and Putin’s meeting will last approximately 30 minutes and there is no suggestion that the duo will hold a news conference, or even answer any questions from reporters. But any footage of the two together will be closely scrutinized. Many of the president’s supporters expressed a view that a little coolness in the body language between him and Putin.
What will Putin do? (Oh, the suspense)
Substantive issues aside, plenty of people will be curious as to how Putin, a former KGB officer, will treat Trump. The Russian leader once brought his large black Labrador to a meeting with Merkel, who is afraid of dogs. So expect an anything-can-happen first meeting.
What will Trump-a-day be looking for?
Yesterday, en route to a potentially fractious G20 summit in Germany, U.S. President Donald Trump met with Polish President Andrzej Duda. The two leaders exchanged an extended handshake.
Then there was this Handshake of the Year:
The White House had said Trump would use the stopover in Warsaw to showcase his commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which he once called “obsolete”, bemoaning allies’ repeated failure to spend the recommended 2 percent of GDP on defense. Trump told a joint news conference with President Duda that it was “past time” for all countries in the alliance to “get going” on their financial obligations.
At the same press conference, Trump said “something” would have to be done about North Korea and called on nations to confront North Korea’s “very, very bad behavior.” He said he did not draw “red lines”, but that Washington was thinking about “severe things” in response to North Korea’s test-launch this week of an intercontinental ballistic missile with the potential to reach Alaska.
Please – please – please, don’t start the nuclear winter!
Trump also said that everyone is benefiting from a thriving U.S. economy, except for him. He bragged about recent stock market gains as he addressed a summit. He specifically said: “Personally I’ve picked up nothing. That’s all right. Everyone else is getting very rich. That’s ok, I’m very happy.”
Yet, yesterday, Walter Shaub, the leader of the federal government’s ethics office who previously criticised President Trump over the president’s business interests, submitted his resignation. Shaub told CBS News on Thursday evening that he doesn’t know whether Trump is profiting from his businesses, but that’s not the point. “I can’t know what their intention is. I know that the effect is that there’s an appearance that the businesses are profiting from his occupying the presidency. And appearance matters as much as reality, so even aside from whether or not that’s actually happening, we need to send a message to the world that the United States is going to have the gold standard for an ethics program in government, which is what we’ve always had,” Shaub said.
The party of German leader Angela Merkel has downgraded the US from a “friend” to a “partner” in another sign that relations between the two countries are in decline. The Christian Democratic Union describes the US as “our most important non-European partner” in its manifesto, published on Monday ahead of September’s federal elections