MOSCOW – Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that he was willing to hand over records of a conversation held by his foreign minister and the United States president during a White House meeting that fueled a media frenzy amid accusations that classified information was handed to the Russians.
Donald Trump faced fresh controversy on Monday after officials and some US media outlets accused him of divulging US intelligence during a talk with Russia’s top diplomat Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak.
Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, weighed in on the topic at a Wednesday press conference, where he said: “If the US Administration deems it appropriate, we are willing to offer the Senate and Congress of the US a recording of the conversation.”
The Kremlin later confirmed that it had a transcript of the conversation and clarified that it was not a recording, as Putin had said.
Some US media outlets rounded on Trump following the Oval office meeting, alleging that he discussed secret information about the Islamic State terror organization’s supposed plans to detonate explosives hidden in laptop computers brought onto airplanes.
During his joint press conference on Wednesday with visiting Italian prime minister, Paolo Gentiloni, Putin downplayed the Trump-Lavrov scandal, saying that the US was developing “political schizophrenia.”
He warned that the stream of accusations coming from the US about alleged Russian meddling in American internal affairs was becoming a concern for Moscow because it was hard to imagine “what the people who produce such nonsense can come up with next.”
Those responsible, Putin said, were either stupid, dangerous or unscrupulous, or willingly inflicting damage on their own country.
He acknowledged, however, that only the American people could be the judge of Trump’s leadership.
But the Russian leader also offered a more light-hearted take on the situation: “I actually spoke with him (Lavrov) today and I will have to reprimand him because he didn’t share the secrets with us; neither with me nor the intelligence services. Very bad on his part.”
On Tuesday, Trump used Twitter to defend his conversation with the Russian diplomats, stating that he had the “absolute right” to disclose the information, adding that it pertained to terrorism and airline safety.
International intelligence officials, however, raised their concerns that sharing such sensitive information could put the lives of sources at risk.
They also highlighted that very few people within the US had access to the information freely given by Trump to the Russian diplomats.
The White House also maintained that Trump had not done anything inappropriate and nor had he put the nation’s security at risk, although it fell short of confirming whether the information revealed in the discussion had been classified.