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Trump and Putin’s first meeting embarrassed the US, Rex Tillerson says



Russian President Vladimir Putin was more prepared for his first meeting with President Donald Trump than the US president was to meet Putin. The encounter ultimately placed the US at a diplomatic disadvantage, according to former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s recollection of the events.

Tillerson gave an account of the 2017 G-20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany, during his seven-hour, closed-door testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday, aides said in a Washington Post report published Wednesday.

The Trump-Putin exchange was reportedly expected to last 45 minutes, but it ended up dragging on for more than two hours as the Russian president ran circles around Trump on matters of global significance.

“We spent a lot of time in the conversation talking about how Putin seized every opportunity to push what he wanted,” one committee aide told The Post. “There was a discrepancy in preparation and it created an unequal footing.”

Read more: Russia flew bombers off the coast of Alaska twice in 2 days, forcing the US to scramble stealth fighters in response

Trump, Putin, Tillerson, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and interpreters all attended the meeting.

Afterward, Trump took the interpreter’s notes and instructed them not to discuss the exchange, according to The New York Times. The two leaders also met again during dinner, but with only Putin’s interpreter.

Trump denied having been ill-prepared for his meeting, according to an emailed statement sent to The Post’s reporter Josh Dawsey.

“I was perfectly prepared for my meetings with Vladimir Putin,” Trump said in the statement. “We did very well at those meetings.”

Tillerson was fired in March 2018, one day after he condemned Russia for a chemical attack against a former Russian spy living in the UK. His comments led the White House to distance itself from Tillerson’s remarks, which it called “reckless, indiscriminate, and irresponsible.”

Tillerson reportedly feuded with Trump and other White House officials on foreign-policy issues during his tenure. Trump lashed out at Tillerson in December and described him as “dumb as a rock,” after the former secretary publicly suggested the president asked him to break the law in the White House.

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