Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday the media coverage of President Trump's dinner meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin has been overblown, and such encounters are not unusual.
"People do get up and go see their wife at dinner, and if they're sitting next to the other country that just had a two-hour talk or whatever it was, of course they are going to talk," Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon. "I've been to hundreds of these dinners, ladies and gentlemen, and you just walk around talking because you don't want to be bored sitting there just eating your pâté de foie gras."
The White House recently confirmed that Trump had an undisclosed meeting with Putin and a Russian translator during a dinner at the Group of 20 gathering in Germany on July 7. The two leaders had a formal meeting earlier in the day that lasted more than two hours.
"If you watched me at dinner, you'd find me talking to some ne'er-do-wells, just the way I do business," Mattis said. "You talk to people who agree, but mostly you try to talk to people who disagree with you when you're in a social setting because that's when you can probably get into more than superficial things."
The previously undisclosed meeting sparked criticism and speculation because no other U.S. representatives took part and no official record exists.
Trump's administration, which is under investigation for ties to Russia's interference in the 2016 election, has been rocked by revelations of other meetings with Russians that were not disclosed.