WASHINGTON (AP) — At least one thing is known about the meeting between presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin: They met.
But for the first time? Or again? Depends on which accounts from Trump you choose to believe.
At home and abroad over the past week, the U.S. president made a number of assertions at odds with reality, about the stock market, the “blazing” economy, NATO and more. But the curious lack of clarity on his personal history with the Russian leader perhaps stood out.
Here’s a look at his statements on that subject over time, and a variety of other assertions in recent days:
TRUMP, in a chronological mashup of statements from 2013 to 2016 on whether he had met Putin: “I met him once.” “Yes. One time, yes. Long time ago. Got along with him great, by the way.” ”I got to know him very well because we were both on ’60 Minutes,’ we were stablemates.” ”I never met Putin. I don’t know who Putin is.” ”I don’t think I’ve ever met him. I mean if he’s in the same room or something. But I don’t think so.” ”I didn’t meet him. I haven’t spent time with him. I didn’t have dinner with him. I didn’t go hiking with him. I don’t know — and I wouldn’t know him from Adam except I see his picture and I would know what he looks like.”
PUTIN: “I never met with him.” — June, NBC interview.
PUTIN: “I am very happy to meet you, Mr. President.” — remarks in a brief, public portion of their meeting Friday.
THE FACTS: We don’t know. But there is no public record of a prior private meeting.
Trump initially claimed to have met Putin during business meetings in Russia or when he owned the Miss Universe beauty pageant, which was held in Moscow in 2013. As a foreign policy neophyte, he found it advantageous before his presidential campaign and during the early part of it to claim a relationship with Putin, to show he had the right stuff to deal with a world leader. When he risked appearing too close to Putin later in the campaign, he changed his story.
This much is known: Trump and Putin were only “60 Minutes” ”stablemates” because they were on the same program. Trump’s segment was taped in New York; Putin’s in Russia.
story by By CALVIN WOODWARD and JOSH BOAK , Associated Press