While at a dinner table with G20 heads of states and their spouses, Trump got up from his seat to have a private talk with Putin. It is not clear what was discussed.
The pair of world leaders had had a formal sit-down at the summit with their respective top diplomats, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Ministery Sergey Lavrov, earlier in the day. Two translators were also present.
Eurasia Group president Ian Bremmer first reported the news of the second chat in a research note to clients, and it has since been confirmed by Trump administration spokesman Sean Spicer, who described it as a "brief conversation" rather than a "second meeting."
While Putin brought his translator for the one-on-one talk, which Bremmer described as "animated," Trump did not. This constituted a "breach of national security protocol," Bremmer said, one that was noted by other world leaders at the dinner.
The White House later clarified that the leaders used Putin's translator to chat because the US translator at the dinner did not speak Russian.
Trump has been accused of "collusion" with Russia by political opponents seeking to de-legitimize his election victory. Trump has denounced the accusations as a "witch hunt." Former FBI director Rob Mueller has been appointed as Special Counsel in the Justice Department to investigate alleged links between Trump and the Russian government.
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) July 18, 2017
"The insinuation that the White House has tried to 'hide' a second meeting is false, malicious and absurd," a Trump administration official said.