Putin offers to disclose ‘Trump tapes’ of meet with Lavrov

18 May 2017


Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that US President Donald Trump had not passed on any secrets to Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov during a meeting in Washington last week, and that he was willing to provide the US Congress a record of Trump's meeting with top Russian envoys to prove it.

Vladimir PutinSpeaking at a news conference alongside Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Putin quipped that Lavrov was remiss for not passing on to him what he made clear he believed were non-existent secrets.

"I spoke to him (Lavrov) today," said Putin with a smile. "I'll be forced to issue him with a reprimand because he did not share these secrets with us. Not with me, nor with representatives of Russia's intelligence services. It was very bad of him."

The provocative offer to share evidence with US oversight committees about the Oval Office meeting came with the caveat that the request for the transcript would have to come from the Trump administration.

Putin, who said Moscow rated Lavrov's meeting with Trump "highly", added that Russia was ready to hand a transcript of Trump's meeting with Lavrov over to US lawmakers if that would help reassure them.

A Kremlin aide, Yuri Ushakov, later told reporters that Moscow had in its possession a written record of the conversation, not an audio recording.

Complaining about what he said were signs of "political schizophrenia" in the United States, Putin said Trump was not being allowed to do his job properly.

"It's hard to imagine what else can these people who generate such nonsense and rubbish can dream up next," said Putin.

"What surprises me is that they are shaking up the domestic political situation using anti-Russian slogans. Either they don't understand the damage they're doing to their own country, in which case they are simply stupid, or they understand everything, in which case they are dangerous and corrupt."

Two US officials said on Monday that Trump had disclosed highly classified information to Lavrov about an Islamic State operation, plunging the White House into another controversy just months into Trump's tenure in office.

Russia has repeatedly said that anti-Russian politicians in the United States are using groundless fears of closer ties with Moscow to sabotage any rapprochement and damage Trump in the process.

No credibility
But according to The Washington Post, presenting a transcript is just the Kremlin's latest gambit in denying that Trump shared classified secrets last week with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russia's ambassador to the United States during an Oval Office meeting, and the tactic may have more to about attempts to sow further chaos in Washington than assuage suspicions about the talks.

The Post first report that Trump in a meeting with Lavrov and Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak shared classified information about an Islamic State plot to smuggle a bomb disguised as a laptop aboard a passenger plane.

Subsequent reports have suggested the intelligence was provided by the Israeli government, and was so sensitive that it was not shared even with the United States' closest allies.

Putin's remarks left some ambiguity as to the nature of the records. While the word ''zapis''' in Russian could indicate an audio recording, an aide told reporters that Putin was referring to a transcript, Reuters news agency reported.

US Representative Adam B Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, dismissed Putin's offer saying, ''Probably the last person the person [Trump] needs to vouch for him right now is Vladimir Putin.

Speaking on a CBS show, he said he doubted the Kremlin would send anything worth trusting, saying,: ''Sure, send it our way. But its credibility would be less than zero.''

In a morning interview on Fox News, Republican Senator Marco Rubio too rubbished the Russian president's announcement.

''I wouldn't put much credibility on what Putin's notes are, and if it comes in an email, I wouldn't click on the attachment,'' he said.

Speaking on CNN, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) added, ''The idea that we would accept any evidence from President Putin is absurd.''

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