- Trump has been presented with a large binder of preparation materials for his trip to Europe
- But the section on his meeting with Putin amounts to only a "few pages" of paper, according to one official
Over the past several days, Trump has been presented with a large binder of preparation materials for his trip to Europe -- but the section on his meeting with Putin amounts to only a "few pages" of paper, according to one White House official. A second official said each talking point is only a sentence or two long to keep Trump focused during his meeting.
There are similar briefing pages in the binder for each of Trump's nine meetings on the sidelines of the G20 in Hamburg.
Presidents spend a large portion of their time in briefings and each president gets their information differently. The meeting with Putin is particularly high-stakes for Trump after allegations by the US intelligence community of Russian meddling aimed at hurting Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election. Russia is also a key world player in diplomatic talks ranging from North Korea's nuclear ambitions, the Iran nuclear deal and the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Among the top administration officials who have been preparing Trump for the meeting: Defense Secretary James Mattis, who has publicly taken a much harder line on Putin than Trump has, and Rex Tillerson, who has a long history of dealings with the Russian leader.
Also involved in the preparation: Fiona Hill, the Putin critic who joined the administration in the last several months as the NSC senior director for European and Russian affairs. She traveled directly to Hamburg, according to an administration official, ahead of Trump's meeting.
Behind the scenes, advisers still express concern at Trump's unpredictability ahead of the session with Putin, especially in light of Putin's known practice of preparing extensively for his meeting with US leaders.
And they still have no certainty on whether Trump will raise the election meddling issue -- most believe he will not raise it, but concede it's hard to predict what will ultimately emerge from the meeting.