Putin claims Trump is ‘satisfied’ with his answers on alleged election meddling
Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(HAMBURG, Germany) — Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the G-20 summit Saturday that he believes U.S. President Donald Trump is “satisfied” with his answers to questions about Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Putin spoke to reporters about his face-to-face meeting with Trump the day before at the summit in Hamburg, Germany. The Russian leader said Trump brought up the alleged election meddling and asked many questions about it.
“He was really interested in a number of details and, as much as I could, I told him in detail what I know,” Putin said through a translator at the press conference, which was broadcast by a Russian state-owned news channel. “He asked me questions. I told him in detail, and I think he was satisfied by my answers.”
Putin said he reiterated to the U.S. president that there was no basis for such allegations.
“Our position is well-known,” Putin told reporters Saturday. “I think there is absolutely no grounds for suggesting that Russia was involved in the U.S. elections.”
The Russian leader added that he found Trump to be “very different” in person from how he seems on television and that he hopes the friendly encounter will help build better relations between the two countries.
At a televised press conference Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also said Trump raised the issue of election meddling. He said the U.S. president accepted Putin’s “clear statements” that “Russian leadership hadn’t interfered.”
But a senior White House official, when asked by ABC News whether Lavrov’s description of Trump’s accepting Putin’s denial of election interference was true, said, “No,” without providing further information.
During an off-camera briefing Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters that the alleged election interference was the first subject Trump raised at the meeting with the Russian leader.
“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. “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.”
In January, just weeks before his inauguration, Trump and his predecessor, Barack Obama, were separately briefed on a classified intelligence report on Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election. A declassified version was released afterward that said Putin ordered a campaign to influence the contest between Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
“We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton and harm her electability and potential presidency,” the report reads, citing the Russian government’s “longstanding desire to undermine the U.S.-led liberal democratic order.”
“We further assess Putin and the Russian government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump,” the report continues, saying Putin nursed a “grudge” against Clinton “for comments he almost certainly saw as disparaging.”
Trump said in January that he accepted the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia was behind the massive alleged hacking of political organizations and individuals during the U.S. presidential race. But on Thursday, he appeared to cast doubt again on the conclusion, saying before a major speech in Poland that there could have been others involved and that “nobody really knows for sure.”
“I think it was Russia, but I think it was probably other people and/or countries, and I see nothing wrong with that statement. Nobody really knows. Nobody really knows for sure,” Trump said in his first press conference overseas as president.
He also again placed blame on Obama for not taking stronger action to confront Russia over its alleged election meddling, accusing the former president of not taking action because “he thought Clinton was going to win.”
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