President Donald Trump revealed new details about a previously undisclosed informal conversation he had with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a dinner for world leaders and their spouses during the G20 summit in Germany earlier this month.
In an interview with The New York Times on Wednesday, Trump said he had a 15-minute conversation with Putin during which the two exchanged “pleasantries” and discussed adoption policy. The Russian leader was seated next to First Lady Melania Trump at the dinner.
“The meal was going toward dessert,” Trump said. “I went down just to say hello to Melania, and while I was there I said hello to Putin. Really, pleasantries more than anything else. It was not a long conversation, but it was, you know, could be 15 minutes. Just talked about things. Actually, it was very interesting, we talked about adoption.”
Putin presumably broached the topic of adoption as part of his ongoing effort to pressure the US government to repeal the 2012 Magnitsky Act, a US law that blacklists Russians suspected of human-rights abuses. In retaliation against the law, Putin banned American adoptions of Russian children.
Trump’s talk with Putin was not originally disclosed by the US government and relied entirely on an interpreter provided by the Russian government. Ian Bremmer, the president of the geopolitical risk firm Eurasia Group, noted the meeting after reportedly being alerted to it by dinner attendees. Trump was enraged by media coverage of the conversation.