US President Donald Trump was so intent on keeping his chats with Russian Vladimir Putin secret, he once made his interpreter turn over his notes and promise to never discuss them, current and former US officials have told The Washington Post.
President Trump made the demand after a July 2017 meeting with the Russian president at the G-20 conclave in Hamburg, Germany, which was also attended by then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the paper reported.
Other US officials learned that Mr Trump had taken possession of the notes when they asked the interpreter for information about the discussion beyond a brief readout Tillerson had provided.
There remains no detailed record, even in classified files, of face-to-face meetings between Mr Trump and Putin from five locations over the past two years, the report said.
“We had a great conversation. I’m not keeping anything under wraps,” Mr Trump insisted in an interview with Jeanine Pirro on Fox News on Saturday.
“I mean it’s so ridiculous,” he added, before taking a swipe at Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos, who has been in the news over his divorce from wife MacKenzie.
“Bezos … who’s got bigger problems than anybody right now,” Mr Trump joked.
Former US officials told the The Washington Post that Mr Trump’s behaviour is at odds with the known practice of previous presidents, who rely on senior aides to witness such meetings.
“Outrageous,” former Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott called the obsession with secrecy.
The president also again defended his firing of ex-FBI Director James Comey, voicing outrage over a New York Times report that as a result of the firing, the FBI had investigated if Trump was secretly working on behalf of Russia.
“Are you now or have you ever worked for Russia,” Pirro asked him with a smile.
“I think it’s the most insulting article I’ve ever had written,” Mr Trump said.
“It’s called the ‘Failing New York Times’ for a reason,” he railed before turning his ire to Comey.
“I call him ‘Lying James Comey’ — he did a terrible job as FBI director,” Mr Trump told Pirro.
This article appeared on the New York Post and has been published with permission.