President Trump on the way to France Thursday stopped into the press cabin of Air Force One for one of those off the record encounters White House reporters treasure, at least to get some face time with the president, get to know and understand him, and then maybe get some calls returned down the line from him or his top aides.
Except Trump apparently thought it was on the record and demanded to know why he wasn’t seeing his quotes in the press. So the White House released some of it, including his own account of the meeting he had had with Russian President Putin during his trip to Europe the previous week.
From the New York Times account of the encounter:
“I said to him, ‘Were you involved in the meddling with the election?’” Mr. Trump recalled. “He said, ‘Absolutely not. I was not involved.’ He was very strong on it. I then said to him, in a totally different way, ‘Were you involved with the meddling?’ He said, ‘I was not — absolutely not.’”
At that point, he said, Mr. Putin shifted the conversation to the war in Syria.
“What do you do? End up in a fistfight?” Trump said.
And what are the Russians going to do, say, Yeah, heck, we did it. Sorry, hope you don’t mind.
And by the way, if you want to apprehend the magnitude of the monomaniacal mainstream media focus on the Russia investigation, consider that the leaders of the United States and Russia met privately for two and a half hours, and all anybody in the press wanted to know was whether Trump made a meaningless effort to get Putin to admit that he tried to sabotage the U.S. election.