Putin’s de­nial gospel for Trump

U.S. leader calls ac­cu­sa­tions of med­dling an ‘ar­ti­fi­cial thing’

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Sunday) - - WASHINGTON REPORT - By Noah Bier­man

DA NANG, Viet­nam — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump de­clined to press con­cerns Satur­day about Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion last year with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin while the two lead­ers met in Viet­nam.

“Ev­ery time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that,’” Trump said aboard Air Force One while trav­el­ing be­tween Da Nang and Hanoi dur­ing his 12-day Asian trip. “And I be­lieve, I re­ally be­lieve that when he tells me that. He means it.”

Trump crit­i­cized for­mer U.S. na­tional se­cu­rity of­fi­cials who sounded the alarm about Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence, in­clud­ing for­mer CIA Di­rec­tor John Bren­nan, for­mer Di­rec­tor of Na­tional In­tel­li­gence James Clap­per and for­mer FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey, whom Trump fired this year.

“They’re po­lit­i­cal hacks,” Trump said. “Comey is proven now to be a liar, and he’s proven to be a leaker. So you look at that. And you have Pres­i­dent Putin very strongly, ve­he­mently says he had noth­ing to do with that.”

Both men were in Da Nang to at­tend the Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion sum­mit. Trump said he had “two or three very short con­ver­sa­tions” with Putin over the past two days to dis­cuss Syria. They is­sued a state­ment Satur­day promis­ing fur­ther co­op­er­a­tion in seek­ing a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion to the coun­try’s civil war.

U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies have con­cluded that Rus­sia en­gaged in a cam­paign to in­flu­ence the elec­tion, hack­ing into Demo­cratic emails that later were leaked and us­ing on­line tools to spread fake news and other pro­pa­ganda.

Trump also raised the med­dling is­sue with Putin in July, dur­ing the Group of 20 sum­mit in Ham­burg, Ger­many. Putin came away from the meet­ing say­ing Trump was “sat­is­fied” with his de­nials. Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son told a dif­fer­ent ver­sion, say­ing the two coun­tries may have “an in­tractable dis­agree­ment” over the is­sue.

Trump said Satur­day that he and Putin “have a good feel­ing to­ward get­ting things done” and that a stronger re­la­tion­ship with Rus­sia “would be a great thing, not a bad thing.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.