Trump Went to 'Extraordinary Lengths' to Hide Contents of Talks With Putin

Officials say there are no detailed records of Trump's numerous personal meetings with Russia's president over the past two years, Washington Post reports

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a joint news conference after their meeting in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018
REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

Trump took away notes of a 2017 meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Hamburg from his own interpreter and took other steps to conceal details of their conversations, a report in the Washington Post said on Saturday. 

The report, which cited current and former U.S. officials as its sources, said that on the same occasion in which he took the notes, Trump also told the linguist who was present not to share any details with other members of his administration. 

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the report, which cited unnamed current and former U.S. officials, was "so outrageously inaccurate it doesn't even warrant a response." 

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U.S. officials said there is no detailed record – not even classified –  of Trump's personal meetings with Putin at five locations in the past two years, according to the report, which described Trump's moves as going "to extraordinary lengths" to conceal details of the conversations.

Officials told the Washington Post that they had never been able to get a reliable readout of the closed-door, two-hour meeting between Trump and Putin in Helsinki last summer – a meeting that took place without any Cabinet officials or aides in the room.

Trump denied on Fox News that he was keeping anything under wraps on his face-to-face meetings with Putin. 

Also Saturday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said the committee  will look into a newspaper report that the FBI investigated whether Trump has been working on behalf of Russia, against U.S. interests.

The New York Times reported that the probe began in the days after Trump fired James Comey as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in May 2017 and said the agency's counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether Trump's actions constituted a possible threat to national security. 

Trump rejected the Times piece in a late Saturday night interview on Fox News as "the most insulting article I've ever had written" and lashed out at Comey and the FBI in half a dozen tweets. 

The New York Times said FBI officials became suspicious of Trump's ties to Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign, but held off on opening an investigation until Trump tied his dismissal of Comey to a probe into allegations of election meddling by Russia. The FBI also considered whether the Republican president's firing of Comey amounted to obstruction of justice. 

U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller took over the investigation into Trump days after the FBI opened it, as he examined allegations of Russian election interference, the Times reported. Russia denies it sought to influence the election. 

Trump lashed out at the Times and former FBI leaders, and criticized the agency's earlier probe of Democrat Hillary Clinton, his rival in the 2016 election. 

"Wow, just learned in the Failing New York Times that the corrupt former leaders of the FBI, almost all fired or forced to leave the agency for some very bad reasons, opened up an investigation on me, for no reason & with no proof, after I fired Lyin' James Comey, a total sleaze!," Trump tweeted.