Trump pretended to be tough with Putin while the cameras were on but told him ‘after they leave, we’ll talk,’ former top aide says in book

Vladimir putin donald trump
US President Donald Trump (R) meets Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) on the first day of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan on June 28, 2019. Kremlin Press Office / Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
  • Trump reportedly acted tough with Vladimir Putin during a June 2019 meeting.
  • “I’m going to act a little tougher with you for a few minutes. But it’s for the cameras,” Trump said, per a new book.
  • Trump’s former press secretary Stephanie Grisham detailed the scene in her forthcoming book.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former President Donald Trump pretended to be tough with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a one-on-one meeting, according to a new book by Trump’s former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham.

“Okay, I’m going to act a little tougher with you for a few minutes. But it’s for the cameras, and after they leave we’ll talk. You understand,” Trump told Putin at the G20 summit in Japan two years ago as journalists had exited the room, per Grisham.

The scene is one of many allegations about the former president detailed in Grisham’s forthcoming book titled, “I’ll Take Your Questions Now.” The Washington Post and New York Times obtained early copies of the book, which is set for release on October 5.

The June 2019 meeting was the first time Trump and Putin spoke face to face after former special counsel Robert Mueller concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

Prior to the investigation’s findings, Trump had repeatedly dismissed claims that Russia meddled in the election and refused to confront Putin on the subject.

“President Putin says it’s not Russia. I don’t see any reason why it would be,” Trump said at a press conference in 2018 after the two world leaders met for a summit in Finland.

During their 2019 encounter, Trump jokingly told Putin not to meddle in the US’ upcoming 2020 election.

Throughout his tenure, Trump was widely criticized for cozying up to dictators and the US’ foreign enemies. The former president once said he got along better with “tougher and meaner” world leaders during an interview with veteran journalist Bob Woodward for his 2020 book, “Rage.”

Grisham’s book is among several new tell-alls about Trump’s White House, which she served in for nearly his entire term. She started as Melania Trump’s press secretary from 2017 to 2019, and then became White House press secretary. After being replaced by Trump’s fourth press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, Grisham returned to work for Melania as her chief of staff in mid-2020. Like several other Trump officials, Grisham resigned in the wake of the Capitol insurrection on January 6.

Spokespeople for Trump and Melania have disputed claims that Grisham has made in her new book, labeling her “a disgruntled former employee.”

“This book is another pitiful attempt to cash in on the President’s strength and sell lies about the Trump family,” Trump’s spokeswoman Liz Harrington told The Post.

“The intent behind this book is obvious. It is an attempt to redeem herself after a poor performance as press secretary, failed personal relationships, and unprofessional behavior in the White House,” Melania’s office said in a previous statement to Politico. “Through mistruth and betrayal, she seeks to gain relevance and money at the expense of Mrs. Trump.”