President Trump abruptly cancelled a planned meeting with Vladimir Putin on Thursday — just hours after his former personal fixer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to lying about his contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign.
The President cited Russia’s refusal to release Ukrainian military ships it seized over the weekend as the reason for his cancellation, but the last-minute reversal raised eyebrows as it came shortly after Cohen cut a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller on charges he lied to Congress about a scuttled plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
“Based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia, I have decided it would be best for all parties concerned to cancel my previously scheduled meeting in Argentina with President Vladimir Putin,” Trump tweeted while on board Air Force One en route to Buenos Aires for the G20 summit. “I look to forward to a meaningful Summit again as soon as this situation is resolved!”
Trump was supposed to meet with the Russian leader on the sidelines of the diplomatic convention on Saturday. Hours before his cancellation tweet, Trump told reporters it is “a very good time to have a meeting” with Putin.
Earlier Thursday, Cohen paid a surprise visit to a federal court in Manhattan and pleaded guilty to misleading the Senate Intelligence Committee about his communications with Kremlin officials during Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Cohen told the committee under oath that all discussions of plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow ceased in January 2016, when they had actually continued until June of that year and that the President himself as well as his family members were privy to the negotiations.