WASHINGTON (CN) – President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin had a second, private meeting at this month’s G-20 economic summit, according to multiple reports published on Tuesday.
The meeting was in addition to the much-publicized sit down between the two leaders at the meeting of 20 of the world’s top economies, during which Putin reportedly denied involvement in influencing the 2016 presidential election.
The previously unknown second meeting lasted an hour, according to multiple press reports, and took place at a private dinner during the G-20 summit.
Trump did not have an interpreter or any U.S. official with him at the meeting, while Putin had a Russian interpreter by his side, according to the New York Times.
In a statement circulated widely on Tuesday, a White House official said the meeting was “perfectly normal” and that Trump only spoke “briefly” to Putin, who had been seated next to First Lady Melania Trump at the dinner. The official said Trump did not have a translator because each leader was only given one interpreter and Trump’s did not speak Russian.
“There was no ‘second meeting’ between President Trump and President Putin, just a brief conversation at the end of a dinner,” the statement reads. “The insinuation that the White House has tried to ‘hide’ a second meeting is false, malicious and absurd.”
Ian Bremmer, who leads the consulting firm the Eurasia Group, said he heard from attendees of the dinner that the heads of state thought Trump’s conversation with Putin was “really weird,” considering the history between the two countries, according to the New York Times.
The news comes as the White House attempts to beat back growing attention on a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. — the president’s son — and multiple people with ties to Russia, including a Russian lawyer and a lobbyist.