Trump embarks on whirlwind G20 after canceling Putin meeting

|Jeremy Diamond and Kevin Liptak, CNN|AIWA! NO!|Buenos Aires (CNN)President Donald Trump was only a half-hour into his nine-hour flight to the G20 summit here in the Argentine capital when he decided to pull the plug on the most hotly anticipated moment of his trip: a lengthy face-to-face with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Kremlin says Trump-Putin G-20 meeting still on

© Getty Images
The Russian government on Monday said that President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are still expected to meet on the sidelines of the upcoming Group of 20 (G-20) summit despite the flaring crisis in Ukraine.

But while Trump’s abrupt decision quashed concerns that the President would repeat his cozy performance alongside Putin during their last meeting in Helsinki, Finland, new allegations by the President’s former longtime attorney Michael Cohen revived questions about Trump’s financial ties to Russia as he arrived for the international summit. Trump’s planned meetings with a half-dozen other world leaders — combined with the possibility of diplomatic snafus — offer little promise of clearing the smoke of suspicion that is once again following him abroad.

The President also refused to back away from the shadow of the Mueller investigation, beginning his day with a fresh pair of tweets about the Cohen saga, saying his business dealings while a candidate were “very legal & very cool.

“Hours later, the White House press secretary Sarah Sanders issued a statement blaming the “Russian Witch Hunt Hoax” — a reference to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation — for hurting US-Russia relations.”The Russian Witch Hunt Hoax, which is hopefully now nearing an end, is doing very well. Unfortunately, it probably does undermine our relationship with Russia,” Sanders said, even as she insisted Trump’s meeting with Putin was canceled because of Russia’s seizure of Ukrainian Navy ships and sailors earlier this week.

Trump also said the situation in Ukraine was his “sole reason” for scrapping the meeting.A Kremlin spokesman told Russian state media earlier Friday that Trump and Putin would have a “brief impromptu meeting” on the sidelines of the G20.

Though the two leaders are likely to see each other and shake hands alongside other leaders at the international summit, a White House official said no meeting had been rescheduled between the two leaders.

The official said the Kremlin appeared to be “trying to save face” with the Friday morning statement.

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