Donald Trump's major issue is that in the end, he can't stop telling lies of omission. When he gets caught, he claims it's no big deal, tweeting furiously at the "fake news" press. The problem is that Trump always gets caught anyway, and that the lies always, always seem to involve Russia.
Hours into a dinner with world leaders who had gathered for the Group of 20 summit meeting, President Trump left his chair at the sprawling banquet table and headed to where President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was seated.
The two presidents had met earlier in the day for the first time and, as the White House put it, had developed a rapport even as they talked about Russia’s interference in the United States’ 2016 elections.
The July 7 meeting in Hamburg, Germany, was the single most scrutinized of the Trump presidency. But it turned out there was another encounter: a one-on-one discussion over dinner that lasted as long as an hour and relied solely on a Kremlin-provided interpreter.
No presidential relationship has been more dissected than the one between Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin, a dynamic only heightened by the swirl of investigations into whether Mr. Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to sway the election in his favor. Nevertheless, the meeting was confirmed by the White House only on Tuesday, after reports surfaced that some of the guests had been surprised that it occurred.
The dinner discussion caught the attention of other leaders around the table, some of whom later remarked privately on the odd spectacle of an American president seeming to single out the Russian leader for special attention at a summit meeting that included some of the United States’ staunchest, oldest allies.
A White House official said there was nothing unusual about it. And in two tweets late Tuesday, Mr. Trump derided news reports about it as “sick.” He said the dinner was not a secret, since all of the world leaders at the summit meeting and their spouses had been invited by Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. “Press knew!” he tweeted.
“Even a dinner arranged for top 20 leaders in Germany is made to look sinister!” Mr. Trump added.
Except of course an hour-long, off -the-record, omitted conversation with no official record from the White House, with the Russian president that Trump is already accused of being far too friendly with, is exactly the kind of unforced error that the White House keeps committing time and time again.
You know, like the country finding out there was an eighth person at Don Jr.'s little Russian Clinton dirt festival in June of 2016., and of course that person was a Russian involved in international money laundering.
A U.S.-based employee of a Russian real estate company took part in a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between a Russian lawyer and Donald Trump Jr., bringing to eight the number of known participants at the session that has emerged as a key focus of the investigation of the Trump campaign’s interactions with Russians.
Ike Kaveladze attended the meeting as a representative of Aras and Emin Agalarov, the father-and-son Russian developers who hosted the Trump-owned Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013, according to Scott Balber, an attorney for the Agalarovs who said he also represents Kaveladze.
Balber said Tuesday that he had received a phone call over the weekend from a representative of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III asking whether Kaveladze would agree to be interviewed. Balber said his client would cooperate.
The request is the first public indication that Mueller’s team is investigating the meeting.
The presence of Kaveladze at the Trump Tower meeting introduces a new and intriguing figure into the increasingly complex Trump-Russia drama. A native of the Soviet republic of Georgia who came to the United States in 1991, Kaveladze was the subject nearly two decades ago of a congressional inquiry into Russian money laundering in U.S. banks, although he was never charged with a crime and Balber said there was never any sign of wrongdoing by Kaveladze.
But at least we now know that Don The Even Lesser's meeting is squarely on Robert Mueller's radar.
The longer this goes, the more we find out.