18 May 2017

Putin offers records of Trump-Russia meeting

8:30 am on 18 May 2017

Vladimir Putin has waded into the growing row surrounding US President Donald Trump and his links to Russia.

Left to right: Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin

Left to right: Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin Photo: AFP

On Monday, the Washington Post, followed by a number of other US outlets, said Mr Trump had given the Russian officials information relating to the Islamic State group (IS) that could have endangered the source of the information.

Mr Trump later defended his right to share the information, and his national security adviser HR McMaster said the president's actions were "wholly appropriate".

Now Russian President Vladmir Putin has joked the meeting did not unfold as had been portrayed.

"I spoke to him [Lavrov] today," he said. "I'll be forced to issue him with a reprimand because he did not share these secrets with us."

He said he would release a record of the meeting to the US Congress if they requested it.

As for Mr Trump, he told US Coast Guard Academy graduates in Connecticut: "No politician in history has been treated worse or more unfairly."

US President Donald Trump arrives at the US Coast Guard Academy Commencement Ceremony in New London, Connecticut.

US President Donald Trump arrives at the US Coast Guard Academy Commencement Ceremony in New London, Connecticut. Photo: AFP

The fallout from both issues continues to consume Washington, with Democratic members of the House of Representatives saying they would try and force a vote to create an independent commission into the Russia ties.

Two Republicans had also backed the move, they said.

Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan however said it was crucial to let investigations run their course before rushing to judgment.

Conflagration over Comey

Former FBI director James Comey

Former FBI director James Comey Photo: AFP

The news of the Russian meeting also came a day after Mr Trump dismissed FBI director James Comey from his post.

While in charge at the FBI, Mr Comey was heading an investigation into possible Russian influence on the US election.

The Russia story has already claimed one victim - Mr Trump's first national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was fired after misleading the government over his meetings with Mr Kislyak.

The New York Times reported Mr Comey wrote a memo following a meeting with the president on 14 February, saying Mr Trump had asked him to close an investigation into Mr Flynn's actions.

He reportedly shared this memo with top FBI associates.

The White House has denied the allegation that Mr Trump had tried to influence Mr Comey.

The Senate's Intelligence Committee said it had asked Mr Comey to appear before the panel to testify, and had asked the FBI for all relevant documents, including the memo.

House Oversight Committee chair Jason Chaffetz, a senior Republican, said the memo and related documents "raise questions as to whether the president attempted to influence or impede the FBI's investigation".

Adam Schiff, the highest-ranked Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said this intervention by Mr Trump, if confirmed, amounted to "interference or obstruction of the investigation".

Mr Trump did have the legal authority to fire Mr Comey, but there is a legal precedent for otherwise lawful acts to be considered an obstruction of justice if done with corrupt intentions, the New York Times reported.


Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs