Assertions made by political observers about the motivating factors behind President Donald Trump canceling a meeting between himself and Russian President Vladimir Putin are inaccurate, according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Some have suggested, for example, that Trump cancelled the meeting due to the fact that his former “fixer” lawyer Michael Cohen revealed in court on Thursday — as part of a guilty plea for having lied in sworn testimony to Congress –that a business deal involving Trump getting permission from Russia to build a Trump Tower in Moscow had continued long into his campaign, as previously reported by the Inquisitr.
Speaking with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer about the issue, Pompeo denied that Trump based his decision on anything other than what the official statement from the White House suggested was his basis for cancelling the meeting. The administration decided to back out of the meeting solely based on events involving Russia taking aggression against Ukraine naval forces near Crimea.
The decision was made “because the Russians behaved in a way that is deeply inconsistent with international law,” the Secretary of State said. It was “ludicrous” for others to suggest that any other reason existed for canceling the meeting, Pompeo said, according to reporting from CNN.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Trump canceled his G20 meeting with Vladimir Putin solely over Russian aggression against Ukraine, denying that developments in the Mueller investigation were a factor https://t.co/TX9XzowdFc pic.twitter.com/U3GGYlvolT
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) December 1, 2018
“The President wanted to send a clear, unambiguous message that we find that type of behavior unacceptable, so we canceled the meeting,” Pompeo added.
But others were suspicious of the timing of Trump’s decision, especially since he had expressed a strong desire to meet with Putin shortly before departing for the G-20 summit. “I think it’s a very good time to have the meeting,” Trump told reporters.
Around that same time, a guilty plea by Cohen was made public. Cohen asserted in his plea that he had lied about the president’s attempts to build a tower in Moscow. Previously, Cohen and other administration officials, including Trump himself, said that negotiations ended before the Iowa caucuses in 2016. Cohen revealed, however, that Trump and his company had attempted to get the tower deal to happen long after that, at least through to June 2016, when then-candidate Trump was securing the Republican Party’s nomination for president.
Michael McFaul, a former U.S. Ambassador to Russia under former President Barack Obama, expressed skepticism. “Did Trump cancel his meeting with Putin because of Russian [sic] attack on Ukraine or Cohen revelations?” he asked.
Josh Marshall, editor and publisher of the site Talking Points Memo, was more direct in his criticism of the president.
“[T]he real issue is that, good and bad, the President’s foreign policy is driven by his financial interests and the fall out of his criminal acts,” he said.