NO­BODY SAYS ANY­THING ON MODI MEET; PUTIN TALKS BE­COME BIG DEAL: TRUMP

AT­TACK­ING ME­DIA Prez asks why no­body says any­thing on meet­ings with Modi

Hindustan Times (Noida) - - FRONT PAGE - Yash­want Raj yash­[email protected]­dus­tan­times.com

: Rus­sia woes came back to haunt Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump as he deals with a gov­ern­ment shut­down that’s be­come the long­est in US his­tory.

A new re­port said Trump had hid­den de­tails of his one-on-one in­ter­ac­tions with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin even from his se­nior of­fi­cials. Frus­trated by the lack of com­plete read­outs of the in­ter­ac­tion — two of them, in­clud­ing one in Helsinki in July 2018, had lasted hours — state and na­tional se­cu­rity of­fi­cials have sought to get more out of the in­ter­preters who at­tended them, The Washington Post re­ported.

Trump pushed back in an in­ter­view with Fox News, say­ing de­tails of the meet­ing are “up for grabs”, and won­dered why no one asks about his meet­ing with other world lead­ers.

“I meet with (In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra) Modi,” Trump said. “I meet with (Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo) Abe. I meet with all of them, but no­body says any­thing.”

He has met the two lead­ers sev­eral times bi­lat­er­ally, and once tri­lat­er­ally, on the side­line of the G-20 sum­mit in Ar­gentina last De­cem­ber.

“I’m not keep­ing any­thing un­der wraps, I couldn’t care less. I mean, it’s so ridicu­lous,” Trump said.

Trump also lashed out at a re­port by The New York Times on Fri­day that the FBI had launched a probe to de­ter­mine if the pres­i­dent was work­ing for the Rus­sians or was un­der their in­flu­ence. “I think it’s the most in­sult­ing thing I’ve ever been asked,” he said in the tele­phone in­ter­view to Fox News when asked about the NYT re­port, which he had al­ready crit­i­cised and pushed back against in a se­ries of tweets on Satur­day. “I think it’s the most in­sult­ing ar­ti­cle I’ve ever had writ­ten.”

Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 elec­tions to tilt the scale for Trump has dogged him even be­fore he took of­fice, and he con­tin­ues to bat­tle it as rev­e­la­tions flow from in­dict­ments and court fil­ings from Spe­cial Coun­sel Robert Muller and other in­ves­ti­ga­tions, such as the case in­volv­ing Michael Co­hen, Trump’s for­mer per­sonal lawyer.

The re­ports came as a par­tial shut­down of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment en­tered 23rd day on Sun­day. It’s now the long­est in US his­tory, im­pact­ing an es­ti­mated 800,000 em­ploy­ees who have ei­ther been fur­loughed or are work­ing with­out pay.

US Congress passed a bill on Thurs­day to com­pen­sate them when the gov­ern­ment re­opens, but there are wor­ries now that it could take a while. Some of­fi­cials have flagged the pos­si­bil­ity of it last­ing into Fe­bru­ary, as both sides re­mained en­trenched in their po­si­tions.

Trump said he wanted to ne­go­ti­ate. “I’m in the White House, wait­ing …”, he tweeted on Sun­day.

There have been no pub­lic dis­cus­sions with Democrats since he broke up the last round, abruptly say­ing “bye-bye”.

Trump has sought $5.7 bil­lion for a wall along the bor­der with Mex­ico to stop il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion — he is now call­ing it a steel bar­rier—but Democrats have re­fused, call­ing it “im­moral”. They are pre­pared to grant him $1.3 bil­lion for bor­der se­cu­rity, but not for any struc­ture.

Law­mak­ers on both sides are try­ing to work on com­pro­mise pack­ages to end the stale­mate and open the gov­ern­ment but with­out any suc­cess yet.

Demon­stra­tors hold il­lu­mi­nated let­ter signs that read ‘trea­son’ out­side the White House. n

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