President Trump is insisting on meeting Vladimir Putin one on one, without any aides present, according to CNN. Trump appears to have a special affinity for private meetings with Putin. When the two met last year in Hamburg, Germany they met first with only Rex Tillerson present on the U.S. side. Trump and Putin later had an unscheduled meeting in which Trump met for roughly an hour with Putin and Putin’s English language translator. In other words, in the second meeting, no one from the U.S. was privy to what was discussed. The United States has no record or knowledge of what was discussed, other than what President Trump may have chosen to share after the fact.
In Helsinki, it appears (if I’m reading the CNN story right) that the two men will meet with translators, presumably one from each country. This is a little different. There would be one more person from the U.S. government: the translator. But a translator cannot be a notetaker in the same setting. So even though a U.S. translator would have some recollection of what was discussed, there would be no formal or detailed record.
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