WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time as the U.S. chief executive when they both attend the G-20 summit in Germany next week, White House officials said Thursday.
But the presidential advisers at a White House briefing who announced the meeting sidestepped reporters’ questions about whether Trump plans to talk to Putin about the Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
National security adviser H.R. McMaster and economic adviser Gary Cohn said the type and substance of the meeting between the two world leaders has not been finalized. “We don’t have an agenda set up,” said Cohn.
The meeting with Putin will be one of many with other world leaders, they said.
Trump’s first five months in office have been consumed by congressional and federal investigations into what the U.S. intelligence community said was the Russian government’s interference in the election on Trump’s behalf and whether his campaign worked with Russia.
Trump has repeatedly said there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia. In January, he said the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s email could have been by Russia but also other countries or individuals.
“Our relationship with Russia is not different from that with any other country in terms of us communicating to them really what our concerns are, where we see problems with the relationship but also opportunities,” McMaster said.
Meanwhile, at his address on energy Thursday, Trump mentioned Long Island as he urged the House to pass two bills on Thursday aimed at cracking down criminals living illegally in the United States, including one to strip federal funds from sanctuary cities.
“This blocks federal grants to cities that release dangerous criminal aliens back into the streets, including the vicious and disgusting and horrible MS13 gang members. We’re getting them out,” Trump said.
Trump said immigration enforcement removed 6,000 of those gang members so far.
“We’re actually liberating towns, like on Long Island, where I grew up,” said Trump, who lived nearby in Jamaica Estates in Queens.
“We’re liberating towns. Those people are so happy to see our guys and our guys are a lot tougher than the MS13 characters, that I can tell you. Liberation!”