Trump said the conversation was mostly about “pleasantries,” but that at one point they did talk “about adoption.” Trump agreed that it was “interesting” that adoptions came up since that’s what his son discussed at his meeting with several Russians last year.
When the New York Times first revealed that during the campaign, Donald Trump, Jr. met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya — and as we now know, several other Russians — he claimed it was to discuss American families adopting Russian children. But that was before the emails to set up the meeting revealed that Trump, Jr. was lured to the meeting with the promise of damaging information on Hillary Clinton. Moreover, “adoption” is a proxy for discussing the Magnitsky Act, which sanctioned many top Russian officials for their role in using murder to cover up a massive tax fraud scheme. Veselnitskaya is one of the top advocates lobbying for a repeal of the Magnitsky Act. Its repeal is also a top priority of Putin.
Russia penalized the U.S. for passing it by banning adoption U.S. adoption of Russian orphans. Thus, any conversation with Russians about adoption is actually a conversation about sanctions. That means Trump and Putin were discussing U.S. sanctions, just as Trump, Jr. and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn did in their own conversations with Russians. (Flynn resigned after lying about having those conversations to Vice President Pence.)
Trump apparently tried to shrug the whole mess off, though, including the revelations about his son’s meeting. He didn’t need material from Russia about Clinton, he told the Times, because he already had more than enough. “There wasn’t much I could say about Hillary Clinton that was worse than what I was already saying,” he said. “Unless somebody said that she shot somebody in the back, there wasn’t much I could add to my repertoire.”
Indeed, during the campaign, Trump mentioned WikiLeaks 164 times, applauding the impact its leaked documents had on the Clinton campaign. Russia, according to a report released by key members of the U.S. intelligence committee, was responsible for the hacking the emails released by Wikileaks.
UPDATE: The Kremlin has rejected the claim that there was a “secret second meeting,” instead saying that Trump and Putin chatted informally over dinner. Like Trump, the Russians claim the two leaders discussed “adoption.”