- Putin coughed nonstop at a 2019 meeting with Trump, Stephanie Grisham wrote in her new book.
- Fiona Hill, Trump’s top Russia advisor, said Putin was trying to set Trump off, Grisham said.
- Trump is a germaphobe, and Putin has previously been accused of playing on world leaders’ insecurities.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to deliberately try to set off President Donald Trump’s germaphobia during their meeting in June 2019, according to a new book.
In her tell-all book “I’ll Take Your Questions Now,” which The Washington Post obtained ahead of publication, the former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Putin used tricks to try to throw Trump off his game at their meeting at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan.
Throughout the meeting, which was closed to journalists, Putin coughed or cleared his throat ceaselessly, prompting Trump’s top Russia advisor, Fiona Hill, to tell Grisham that Putin seemed to be trying to set off Trump’s germaphobia, Grisham wrote, according to The Post.
It is well known that Trump hates germs and obsesses over hygiene. “If you’re the perpetrator of a cough or of a sneeze or any kind of thing that makes you look sick … you get the scowl,” a former Trump campaign official once told Politico.
Representatives for Trump did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Putin has previously been accused of playing on the insecurities of world leaders. In 2007, Putin brought his large dog to a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, even though Merkel is said to have feared dogs since one attacked her in 1995.
Putin tried to unsettle Trump in other ways during the Osaka meeting, Grisham wrote, according to The Post.
Grisham said Hill told her that Putin had brought along an attractive female interpreter who seemed to be there specifically to distract Trump, The Post reported.
And Grisham wrote that she saw Trump lean over to tell Putin that he was going to act tougher with him “for the cameras” but that “after they leave, we’ll talk.”
“You understand,” he added, Grisham wrote.
Grisham’s book, set to be released on Tuesday, is said to comprise a long list of grievances against her former boss and insightful anecdotes about her time in the White House. For example: