by Itunuoluwa Adebo
Russian President Vladimir Putin said ,Wednesday that President Donald Trump had not passed any secrets onto Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during a meeting in Washington last week and that he could prove it.
Speaking at a news conference alongside Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Putin quipped that Lavrov had not passed what he said were the non-existent secrets onto him either. Putin said Russia was ready to hand a transcript of Trump’s meeting with Lavrov over to U.S. lawmakers if that would help reassure them.
Two U.S. officials said, Monday that Trump had disclosed highly classified information to Lavrov about a planned Islamic State operation, plunging the White House into another controversy just months into Trump’s short tenure in office.
The White House denied the president inappropriately provided the Russians with secret information, but Trump on Tuesday defended sharing “facts” with the Russians, writing on Twitter that, “As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”
Putin, however, called U.S. politicians “stupid” and “dangerous and unscrupulous” and accused them of wanting to hurt the U.S. He did not name them. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), however, cast doubt on the authenticity of any information provided by Russia. “If there are transcripts, we need those transcripts as well. But I’ve got to tell you. We don’t need them from the Russians. The idea that we would accept any evidence from president Putin is absurd,” Collins said on CNN Wednesday. “I wouldn’t trust any evidence that the Russians said they could provide.”
Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio agreed with Collins. “Well, I wouldn’t put much credibility into whatever Putin’s notes are,” Rubio said on Fox Wednesday morning. “And if it comes in an e-mail, I wouldn’t click on the attachment either, that’s for sure.”