By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — U.S. President Donald Trump has denied hiding details of conversations with Russian leader Vladimir Putin from administration officials, saying he is “not keeping anything under wraps.”
Trump made the comments in a telephone interview late on January 12 with Fox News, after The Washington Post reported that the U.S. president “has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details” of his conversations with Putin.
Citing current and former U.S. officials, the paper said that on at least one occasion, in Hamburg in 2017, Trump took away his interpreter’s notes following talks and instructed that person not to discuss what had transpired with other officials.
Trump also said he had “a great conversation” with Putin during their one-on-one, nearly two-hour meeting in Helsinki in July 2018.
When asked why not release details of the talks, held behind closed doors, he said: “I would. I don’t with care.
“I mean, I had a conversation like every president does. You sit with the president of various countries… We were talking about Israel and securing Israel and lots of other things … I’m not keeping anything under wraps. I couldn’t care less. I mean, it’s so ridiculous,” the U.S. president said.
Trump’s relations with Russia before his election in 2016 are the focus of an ongoing criminal inquiry led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Investigators are trying to establish whether there was any collusion between Trump’s campaign team and Russian officials.
The U.S. president has described the inquiry as “a witch hunt.”
On January 11, The New York Times reported that the FBI had opened a counterintelligence probe in 2017 into whether Trump was working for Russian interests.
This alleged investigation was eventually merged into the Mueller investigation.
At least three different congressional committees have also been probing various aspects of Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 election.
The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Russia engaged in a campaign of hacking and propaganda to sway voters during the vote, largely aimed at bolstering Trump’s chances at the presidency.
Russian officials have repeatedly denied any such effort.