The Kremlin responded to media reports that President Donald Trump held a second “secret” meeting with Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit, saying it has prompted “astonishment” in Moscow and displays a “lack of understanding” while confirming the two did chat informally over dinner. "The use of such notion as "undisclosed" or "secret" meeting causes absolute astonishment and lack of understanding" Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian state TV, Channel One.
Peskov said there was only one meeting between the two leaders on the sidelines of the summit and it was officially announced; and that Putin and Trump “repeatedly exchanged their opinions during the [summit].”
When asked about the nature of the G20 dinner chat, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters: "There was no secret second meeting. The two men had chatted informally over dinner", said Peskov, and had discussed adoption. Putin’s spokesman also said “there were no undisclosed or secret meeting” adding that such claims are “absurd.” Peskov also said that the existence of such reports in the MSM demonstrates the “unhealthy attitude” of the US establishment towards Russia.
“Presenting something like this as a meeting that could be kept secret from anybody is a manifestation of… schizophrenia,” he said.
His words were echoed by the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, who said any meeting between any US and Russian official is immediately presented in the US media as something “criminal.” "It appears that the very fact of a contact [of any US official] with the Russian officials turns into a sort of a criminal [act],” Ryabkov told Channel One’s Sixty Minutes program.
"Every leader has the right to communicate with whoever he or she wants in a way he or she see fit.” Ryabkov added that “there are dozens of various contacts [between the world leaders] that are not being recorded.”
The Russian also suggested that the whole story about the alleged ‘secret’ meeting is nothing but an attempt to tarnish the reputation of the US president.
“Those, who raise an issue in such a way, are working on undermining the authority of President Trump and creating additional difficulties for him,” Ryabkov said.
Earlier Wednesday, Trump also lashed out at what he called “sick” media reports about his alleged “secret” meeting with Putin at a state dinner during the G20 summit in Germany. “The Fake News is becoming more and more dishonest! Even a dinner arranged for top 20 leaders in Germany is made to look sinister!” he said in one of his Tweets.
As a reminder, the first report about the alleged "secret meeting" was provided by Eurasia's Ian Bremmer, who has been openly critical of Trump on twitter over the past year. In a newsletter to group clients, Bremmer reportedly said the meeting began "halfway" into the dinner and lasted "roughly an hour." While it is unclear which "anonymous" world leader source he relied on, Bremmer said there was no one else within earshot at the time, meaning that the conversation must have been private. Predictably, Bremmer’s report prompted media speculation on the content of the ‘private’ Trump-Putin dinner chat.
Ovenright, Trump told the New York Times that the informal conversation he had with Putin was mostly about "pleasantries."