Trump ‘pressed’ Putin on election meddling but he denied it, Rex Tillerson says
Pool/Getty Images(HAMBURG, Germany) — President Trump on Friday pressed Vladimir Putin on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections at their face-to-face meeting during the G-20 summit meeting, which the Russian president denied, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.
“The president opened the meeting by raising the concerns of the American people regarding Russian interference in 2016 election. Putin denied such involvement as he has done in the past,” Tillerson said during an off-camera briefing Friday in Hamburg, Germany. “The two leaders agreed this is of substantial hindrance. They agreed to exchange further work regarding commitments of noninterference in the affairs of the U.S. and our democratic process as well as other countries.”
Tillerson added that both presidents acknowledged the “interference in the democratic processes” in the United States and other countries and that they would “create a framework” to deal with such cyberthreats and how those tools are used in infrastructure and terrorism.
Putin and Trump’s meeting lasted about two hours and 15 minutes — far longer than the planned 30-minute duration — and Tillerson said the meeting was “very constructive” with both leaders possessing a “positive chemistry” and not “relegating” often to one another.
First lady Melania Trump came into the meeting after the first-hour mark but “couldn’t get through” to both leaders, Tillerson said.
Both presidents exchanged views on the nature of U.S.-Russia relations and the future.
“It’s an honor to be with you,” Trump had said to President Putin at the beginning of their meeting, which began shortly after 10 a.m. ET.
“President Putin and I have been discussing various things. I think it’s going very well, we’ve had some very, very good talks,” Trump told reporters who were allowed into the room briefly.
Trump added, “We look forward to a lot of very positive things happening for Russia, for the United States, and for everybody concerned.”
Trump and Putin were joined at their more formal meeting by Tillerson, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and two translators.
Putin said beforehand that he was “delighted” to meet with Trump personally and hoped their meeting would “yield positive results,” according to the translator.
The Russian president said while he and Trump have spoken over the phone — three times since Trump took office – such calls are “never enough.”
Trump did not answer questions from the media on whether they would discuss Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
Before their high-stakes sit-down, the two leaders had a casual run-in this morning where they exchanged a handshake.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
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