Russian President Vladimir Putin out-prepared US President Donald Trump in their first meeting: Rex Tillerson

US President Donald Trump (R) moves to shake hands with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin as they meet in Hamburg, July 2017. (Photo ...

US President Donald Trump (R) moves to shake hands with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin as they meet in Hamburg, July 2017. (Photo by AFP)
US President Donald Trump was put his team at a disadvantage by showing up less prepared to his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, former American Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has told Congress.

Speaking to a congressional committee on Tuesday, Tillerson said Putin made the best out of Trump’s ill-preparedness and promote his own agenda when the two leaders came together on the sidelines of the 2017 G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.

Citing a committee aide, The Washington Post reported that Tillerson, who was fired by Trump in March 2018, was invited to the committee to brief lawmakers on the panel with his assessment of Trump's approach to the talks.

"We spent a lot of time in the conversation talking about how Putin seized every opportunity to push what he wanted," a committee aide told the newspaper.

"There was a discrepancy in preparation, and it created an unequal footing."

After the two-hour meeting in July 2017, Trump came under fire for what his opponents called a clear refusal to criticize the Russian leader directly over allegations that Moscow had meddled in US elections the year before.

He stirred more criticism later on by telling reporters that he got along "very, very well" with Putin at the meeting.

Tillerson was present at the Hamburg talks, where Putin and Trump discussed a variety of global issues, anonymous committee aids told the Post.It took a year for the two leaders to meet again in the Finnish capital, Helsinki, where they held their first formal summit. In a break with standard diplomatic practice, Trump and Putin dismissed their top aides for two hours of talks.

The businessman-turned-politician had previously downplayed preparation for such meetings, saying "attitude" was more useful than research.

"I don't think I have to prepare very much... It's about attitude, it's about willingness to get things done," he said before his first meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore last year.

Trump dismissed Tillerson's remarks, claiming he was "perfectly prepared" for meetings with Putin.

"We did very well at those meetings," he said, according to the report.

Tillerson had previously described Trump as an "undisciplined" person who constantly tried to violate the law, leading his former boss to respond by calling him "dumb as a rock" and “lazy as hell."

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