Trump Jokes To Putin: ‘Don’t Meddle In The Election’
With a smirk and a finger point, President Donald Trump dryly told Russia’s Vladimir Putin “Don’t meddle in the election” in their first meeting since the special counsel concluded that Moscow extensively interfered with the 2016 campaign.
The tone of the president’s comment did little to silence questions about Trump’s relationship with Russia in the aftermath of special counsel Robert Mueller’s conclusion that he could not establish a criminal conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and Russia.
The moment at the Group of 20 summit in Osaka echoed one of the most defining moments of Trump’s presidency in Helsinki, Finland. There, he pointedly did not admonish Putin about election interference and did not side with U.S. intelligence agencies over his Russian counterpart.
Trump and Putin traded brief remarks Friday, the first time they sat together since Helsinki, about issues they planned to discuss when a reporter asked Trump if he would warn Putin not to meddle in the 2020 election.
“Of course,” the president replied. Then he turned to Putin and facetiously said, “Don’t meddle in the election.” He playfully repeated the request while pointing at Putin, who laughed.
Trump said he enjoyed a “very, very good relationship” with Putin and said “many positive things are going to come out of the relationship.” The Kremlin says Putin has invited Trump to visit Russia next year to mark the 75th anniversary of the allied victory in World War II.
Putin has repeatedly dismissed the Mueller report’s conclusion that Russia had systemically interfered in the 2016 U.S. election, telling the Financial Times earlier this week that it was “mythical interference.”
Putin said that what really happened was that Trump saw changes in American society and took advantage of them.
Putin, who has highlighted national populist movements in Europe and America, told the newspaper that he thinks liberalism — the main political ideology in the West since the end of World War II — is dead.
He praised Trump for trying to stop the flow of migrants and drugs from Mexico.