Did Trump and Putin Hear it Differently?

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After U.S. President Donald Trump’s lengthy meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 in Hamburg, Germany, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated that the two had discussed Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. After Putin denied any Russian involvement, Tillerson said Trump “is rightly focused” on how to “move forward from something that may be an intractable disagreement at this point.” But can the U.S. simply move on from something as serious as an attack on a U.S. election? The Cipher Brief spoke with John McLaughlin, a Cipher Brief Expert and former Acting Director of the CIA to hear his take on the meeting – and what comes next between the two countries.  

The Cipher Brief: Are you surprised the meeting extended beyond the scheduled thirty minutes? Afterwards, Secretary of State Tillerson said there was a “clear positive chemistry between the two,” and that the meeting went so long because “neither one of them wanted to stop.” What does that tell you about their relationship, despite all the controversy? Does that suggest anything in terms of the substance discussed?

The Cipher Brief has become the most popular outlet for former intelligence officers; no media outlet is even a close second to The Cipher Brief in terms of the number of articles published by formers.” —Sept. 2018, Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 62

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