Tags: Donald Trump | Russia | nicholas burns | no | record | trump | vladimir putin

Former Amb. Burns: No Real Record of Trump, Putin Meeting

CNN's "New Day"/Twitter

By    |   Wednesday, 19 Jul 2017 03:10 PM

The fact that Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin talked during a G-20 dinner wasn't a problem, as they should get to know each other, but Trump should have had his own translator with him to keep a record of the conversation, former Ambassador Nicholas Burns said Wednesday.

"They're the two most powerful people in the world," Burns told CNN "New Day" host Chris Cuomo during an interview that also included CNN military and diplomatic analyst John Kirby, a former State Department spokesperson. "The real problem is his weakness, the weakness of President Trump, towards Russia because they hacked our election and the president hasn't done anything about it."

The real test is whether the Trump administration will support a big sanctions bill against Russia, currently under discussion in Congress.

"President Trump seems to be running after Putin, chasing some kind of illusory good relationship when the Russians are occupying half of Ukraine, when they've hacked our election, when they're a big problem for us in the Middle East," Burns continued. "I think that's where the focus of the president should be, to be tougher with Putin at the beginning of this relationship."

Kirby said he is concerned about the conversation itself, as it's not known what the two leaders talked about and if the discussion involved sanctions.

"I think this gets to the ambassador's point about the policies toward Russia," said Kirby. "They are so opaque, and they are weak, and we don't know a lot of where this is all going."

And now, there is an hour-long meeting with Putin, but there is no record of it, said Kirby.

"We don't know if what he said to Putin was actually translated accurately," said Kirby. " "I agree that the meeting is a good thing. These pull-asides happen all the time at these international conferences, but it was so unprepared for and we have no record of it. That is a concern."

Burns, meanwhile, disagreed with a comment from Cuomo that many Americans seem "pretty unanimous" that they want a better relationship with Russia, so a hard line that hasn't worked may not be the best thing.

"I'm not sure that the American people, the average American, the majority of Americans support a weak policy towards Russia," said Burns. "We need to be effective in the world. We're the global leader and we need to stand up for NATO. So, President Trump has to be careful here."

Putin, continued Burns, is "very tough-minded and he's very cynical. The way I think we've dealt successfully with him in the past, President Bill Clinton, President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama is, you have to draw the line. You have to show Putin where he can't go and President Trump has not done that."

The Senate has passed its sanctions bill by 97-2 votes, but Trump is trying to "water it down" in the House.

"That's where the Trump administration has to get smart," said Burns. "If you give, give, give to Putin, he's going to take. If you let him hack your election with no penalty in return, he'll do it again in the 2018 midterms."

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The fact that Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin talked during a G-20 dinner wasn't a problem, as they should get to know each other, but Trump should have had his own translator with him to keep a record of the conversation, former Ambassador Nicholas Burns said...
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2017-10-19
Wednesday, 19 Jul 2017 03:10 PM
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