Russian President Vladimir Putin says reports that President Trump gave Russian officials highly classified information make him think “the United States has been developing political schizophrenia.”
“This is the only thing I can think of when I hear allegations saying that the president has revealed some secrets to [Russian Foreign Minister Sergey] Lavrov,” Putin said Wednesday, two days after allegations that Trump shared classified information with Lavrov and another Russian diplomat, Sergey Kislyak, during a meeting last week in the Oval Office.
Speaking at a news conference in Sochi, the Russian president declared that Trump did not share any secrets.
Putin said he is prepared to provide a transcript of the meeting to members of the U.S. Congress, where lawmakers have raised questions and criticisms over reports that Trump had shared valuable intelligence about ISIS that was gleaned by a U.S. ally.
Putin’s offer set off alarm bells for many who’ve been watching the case. NPR’s Lucian Kim said the Russian leader used the word zapis, which can be translated as a “record” or “recording” — feeding speculation over Russia’s own intelligence gathering that centers on the U.S.
Reuters reports that Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov later told journalists that Moscow had a written account of the Oval Office conversation, not a recording.
After White House officials denied that the president had shared classified data inappropriately, Trump tweeted that he has “the absolute right” to share information with the Russians.
On Wednesday, Putin jokingly said of Lavrov, “I will have to reprimand him because he shared these secrets neither with me nor with the Russian secret services, which is very inappropriate on his part.”
The Russian leader’s comments were translated by state-run Tass media. We’re awaiting the Kremlin’s full translation of his remarks.
From Moscow, Kim reports that Putin also said that it’s up to the American people, not Russia, to assess Trump’s performance. “But he should be allowed to do his work,” Kim quotes Putin saying.
Putin spoke at a time when in the U.S., talk of impeaching Trump has migrated from the fringes of political discourse to the mainstream, as NPR’s Domenico Montanaro reports.
Of course, Montanaro adds, “It is highly unlikely — there’s almost zero chance — Trump would be impeached by a Republican Congress.”