The Cable

Putin Offers Congress Record of Trump’s Meeting With Lavrov

“If the American administration would like that.”

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Russian President Vladimir Putin offered on Wednesday to provide Congress a transcript of President Donald Trump’s May 10 conversation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The Russian president told reporters in Sochi, where he was having talks with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, that he would be happy to turn over transcripts “if the American administration would like that, of course,” to show that no secrets were shared. Putin did not specify how, exactly, he might have come to have an exact transcript of the meeting. (Trump himself has suggested that the Oval Office is bugged, but never suggested that the Kremlin was also listening in.)

Putin did wade into the U.S. debate over the true role of Russian interference in last year’s election, and seemed to give backing to the notion that Washington and Moscow have common interests that they should advance. He said that Americans dealing in anti-Russian rhetoric “either don’t understand that they are harming their own country, which means they are just dumb, or they understand everything and then they are dangerous and unscrupulous people.”

Such sentiments echo Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova, who took again to social media on Tuesday to chastise U.S. journalism.

“Guys, are you reading American papers again? Don’t read them,” she wrote, adding, “Lately, it’s become more than just harmful. It’s become dangerous.”

Putin’s cheeky proposal comes two days after the Washington Post broke the story that Trump had shared sensitive intelligence with Lavrov, as well as with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Sergei Kislyak. The White House initially tried to shoot down the story, before Trump himself confirmed it.

Meanwhile, intelligence community veterans worried that sharing intelligence gleaned from a U.S. ally without their permission could endanger sources on the ground and make countries less willing to share intel with Washington.

But Trump defended his highly unusual move the next day, tweeting that he had the right to share information pertaining to terrorism and airline safety with Russian officials, and that he wanted to do so because of “Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”

Meanwhile, as if to add insult to injury, Russian news outlet Vesti asked, “What is there for Russian hackers, when the American president himself shares secrets with Russia!”

Photo credit: Damir Sagolj-Pool/Getty Images

Emily Tamkin is a staff writer at Foreign Policy covering ambassadorial and diplomatic affairs in Washington. @emilyctamkin

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