Putin says Trump seemed to accept meddling denial
HAMBURG, Germany — Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday that in his first face to face meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, he thinks Trump accepted his assurances that Russia didn’t meddle in the U.S. presidential election and that their conversation could be a model for improving ties between the two countries.
Speaking to reporters after the two-day Group of 20 summit in Germany ended, Putin said he and Trump had a long discussion about the allegations of Russian interference in last year’s election that have dogged Trump’s presidency.
The Russian leader said he reiterated his “well-known” position that “there are no grounds” for the allegations.
“He asked many questions on the subject, I tried to answer them all,” Putin said. “It seems to me that he has taken note of that and agreed, but it’s better to ask him about his attitude.”
Putin said his answers were detailed and covered his discussions on the election meddling issue with representatives of the previous administration, including former President Barack Obama. But he would not reveal details of his exchange with Trump, saying the conversation was confidential.
“He asked questions, I replied. It seemed to me that he was satisfied with the answers,” Putin said.
Trump’s top envoy to the United Nations quickly disputed the Russian president’s assessment of Trump’s takeaway from their one-on-one meeting.
“President Trump still knows that they meddled. President Putin knows that they meddled, but he is never going to admit to it. And that’s all that happened,” Ambassador Nikki Haley told CNN on Saturday.
Trump has avoided firmly blaming Moscow for campaign hacking in the past. The day before he met with Putin, he argued variably that it could have been Russia, probably was Russia and indeed was Russia, while insisting that it could have been other countries, too.
President Donald Trump speaks Friday during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit in Hamburg.