Melania Trump sat next to Russian President Vladimir Putin — and not her own husband — at a G20 dinner for world leaders and their spouses.
The long-anticipated meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin had taken place just hours before the dinner, a private meeting that went so long, Melania herself went to the door to try to break up the meeting — to no avail.
Melania and Vladimir did get some quality time later in the evening, with photographs showing the First Lady seated next to Putin at the dinner for world leaders.
“Russian President Vladimir Putin was seated next to the US first lady, Melania Trump, at a banquet for G20 leaders and their spouses after a concert at the summit in Hamburg,” a caption published in The Guardian noted.
The picture generated quite a bit of interest given the seemingly close relationship that Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin had exhibited during their earlier meeting. The two shared a warm greeting and ended up talking for more than two hours for a meeting scheduled to last 30 minutes — with even Melania’s attempt to break it up failing to cut the meeting short.
— The Hill (@thehill) July 8, 2017
That generated controversy given the assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies that the Russian government undertook a campaign to interfere in the 2016 presidential election in an effort to hurt Hillary Clinton and boost Donald Trump’s chances. Trump himself appears to have wavered on that claim, and during the meeting reportedly expressed doubt that the interference ever happened.
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) July 8, 2017
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after the meeting Trump accepted Putin’s assurances that Russia played no role in interfering with the 2016 election, CNN reported. This came after Trump himself expressed uncertainty about whether Russia had interfered, telling reporters that it could have been Russia or other countries as well.
That generated some blowback from former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who said there was no evidence of other countries interfering other than Russia.
“As far as others doing this, well that’s new to me,” Clapper said in an appearance on CNN’s The Situation Room (via The Hill).
Though there was some controversy at the pictures showing Melania Trump seated next to Vladimir Putin at the G20 dinner, the pictures did not make it clear whether Melania or Donald Trump had any control over the seating arrangement. While Melania sat next to the Russian president, Donald was seated away from her and next to Juliana Awada, the wife of Argentina’s president.
[Featured Image by Michael Ukas – Pool / Getty Images]