President Donald Trump has gone to "extraordinary lengths" to conceal details of his meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Washington Post reported in a bombshell story late Saturday.
What are the details?
In one instance, following a meeting with Putin in Hamburg in 2017, Trump took personal possession of notes from an interpreter and directed a linguist — who was there to help translate the conversation — not to discuss details from the meeting with anyone, including senior-level administration officials.
Trump's alleged actions frustrated administration officials, since they were never able to obtain a "comprehensive account of the meeting," the Post reported.
"We were frustrated because we didn't get a readout," a former senior administration member told the Post.
More from the Post:
The constraints that Trump imposed are part of a broader pattern by the president of shielding his communications with Putin from public scrutiny and preventing even high-ranking officials in his own administration from fully knowing what he has told one of the United States' main adversaries.
As a result, U.S. officials said there is no detailed record, even in classified files, of Trump's face-to-face interactions with the Russian leader at five locations over the past two years. Such a gap would be unusual in any presidency, let alone one that Russia sought to install through what U.S. intelligence agencies have described as an unprecedented campaign of election interference.
According to the Post, Trump's alleged behavior is "is at odds with the known practices of previous presidents," who, when meeting with individuals like Putin, for example, "relied on senior aides to witness meetings and take comprehensive notes then shared with other officials and departments."
Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the Post he "was present for the entirety of the two presidents' official bilateral meeting in Hamburg," but declined to share additional details.
How did Trump & the White House respond?
The president directly responded to the accusations during an interview with Fox News host Jeanine Pirro, pledging transparency about his encounters with Putin, specifically their meeting in Helsinki last summer.
"I would. I don't care," Trump said when asked if he would divulge details from the meetings. "I'm not keeping anything under wraps. I couldn't care less."
Trump also attacked the Post for its story, zeroing in on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Post.
"I mean, it's so ridiculous, these people making up," Trump said, claiming the Post is a "lobbyist" for Bezos' interests.
"The Washington Post is almost as bad, or probably as bad, as the New York Times," Trump said.
Meanwhile, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that the Post's story is "outrageously inaccurate."
"The Washington Post story is so outrageously inaccurate it doesn't even warrant a response. The liberal media has wasted two years trying to manufacture a fake collusion scandal instead of reporting on the fact that unlike President Obama, who let Russia and other foreign adversaries push America around, President Trump has actually been tough on Russia," she said.