Mr. Trump made this false claim in order to defend his second, undocumented meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Mr. Trump’s logic?
Mr. Trump was seated next to Japan’s first couple at the G-20 private dinner. If neither are able to speak fluent English, then (at least, according to him) the President has a reason to speak with somebody who does. There are three problems with the President’s logic: The Japanese First Lady speaks fluent English and the Russian President doesn’t, which would seem to make his argument burst at the seams. The third problem was that there were interpreters available, but the President throws dirt on this.
Here is Trump explaining why he ventured to speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin for a second undisclosed time:
Trump: So, I was seated next to the wife of Prime Minister Abe [Shinzo Abe of Japan], who I think is a terrific guy, and she’s a terrific woman, but doesn’t speak English.
NYT: Like, nothing, right? Like zero?
TRUMP: Like, not “hello.”
NYT: That must make for an awkward seating.
TRUMP: Well, it’s hard, because you know, you’re sitting there for——
TRUMP: So the dinner was probably an hour and 45 minutes….And now Melania was sitting on the other side of the table, way down on the other end, very far away. She was sitting next to Putin and somebody else, I don’t know. She was sitting next to Putin.
NYT: She had been the whole time?
TRUMP: Yes. She was sitting next to Putin.
NYT: Does she speak Russian at all?
TRUMP: No. She speaks other languages.
TRUMP: She was sitting next to Putin and somebody else, and that’s the way it is. So the meal was going, and toward dessert I went down just to say hello to Melania, and while I was there I said hello to Putin. Really, pleasantries more than anything else. It was not a long conversation, but it was, you know, could be 15 minutes. Just talked about — things. Actually, it was very interesting, we talked about adoption.