In a Thursday night tweet, President Donald Trump promised that his Group of 20 (G20) summit trip will be “very productive,” despite downgrading and canceling a slew of meetings, the Washington Examiner reports.
“Arrived in Argentina with a very busy two days planned. Important meetings scheduled throughout. Our great Country is extremely well represented. Will be very productive!” the president tweeted.
This message follows a decision to downgrade meetings with South Korea’s Moon Jae-in and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Trump will meet with Erdogan and Moon Jae-in, but the meetings have been downgraded from formal “sit-downs” to informal “pull-asides.” Perhaps most significantly, Trump decided to cancel a meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
The decision to pull the plug on the face-to-face with Putin comes following Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen’s guilty plea. According to BBC, Cohen pleaded guilty to making false statements to U.S. Congress, saying that he did so out of loyalty to Donald Trump. At a hearing, Cohen admitted to submitting a false written statement pertaining to the Trump Organization’s plan to build a skyscraper in Moscow, Russia. Cohen also said that the project had continued until June 2016, while Trump was running for president.
“He’s a weak person and not a very smart person. He’s got himself a big prison sentence. And he’s trying to get a much lesser prison sentence by making up this story,” Trump said of his former lawyer, arguing the fact that he was “allowed to do business” while running for president. Former federal and state prosecutor Elie Honig wrote in a CNN op-ed that Cohen’s guilty plea “cements” Trump’s ties to Russia, arguing that his testimony could be a game-changer for special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference and possible coordination with the Trump campaign.
Elaborating on the decision to cancel his much-anticipated G20 meeting with Putin, Trump cited Russia’s failure to return Ukrainian ships and sailors it seized, according to the Guardian. Trump, he said, is “looking forward” to meeting with his Russian counterpart as soon as the situation is resolved. The publication notes that Trump’s behavior around Putin came under intense scrutiny at their July meeting in Helsinki, Finland. At the Helsinki summit, Trump sided with Putin, contradicting the United States intelligence community and seemingly taking the Russian president’s word on whether Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election.
CNN reports that Trump will meet with a slew of other world leaders attending the G20 summit, including Angela Merkel of Germany and Xi Jinping of China.