Trump: Putin ‘vehemently denied’ election meddling after I ‘strongly pressed’ him

President Trump says that he “strongly pressed” Russian President Vladimir Putin on Moscow’s alleged meddling in the U.S. election during their highly anticipated meeting at the G-20 summit over the weekend — and that Putin “vehemently denied it.”

“I strongly pressed President Putin twice about Russian meddling in our election,” Trump tweeted early Sunday, hours after returning to Washington from the summit in Hamburg, Germany. “He vehemently denied it. I’ve already given my opinion…..”

In Warsaw, Poland, on Thursday, Trump said Russia “could” have interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election — which was the conclusion of the four U.S. intelligence agencies that investigated it — but that “nobody really knows for sure.”

“I think it very well could be Russia, but I think it could very well have been other countries,” Trump said during a news conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda. “I think a lot of people interfere.”

Trump also tweeted Sunday that he and Putin “negotiated a ceasefire in parts of Syria,” and that the two “discussed forming an impenetrable” cybersecurity unit to prevent future election-related hacking.

The president asserted that U.S. sanctions against Russia were not discussed during his sit-down with Putin, adding that “nothing will be done until the Ukrainian & Syrian problems are solved!”

On Friday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — the only other senior U.S. official present during Trump’s— talks with Putin, told reporters that the president “pressed” the Russian leaders, only to be rebuffed.

At a separate briefing, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Trump described the multiple investigations into Moscow’s interference as “strange and bizarre” because thus far, “not a single fact has been presented” to prove the charge. Lavrov added that Trump accepted Putin’s denial that Russia was involved.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Trump talk at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on Friday. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)
Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Trump talk at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on Friday. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Tillerson said that Trump is ready to “move forward” from the seemingly “intractable” dispute.

Back at the White House, Trump revived his questionable claim that the Democratic National Committee’s refusal to turn over its email server to federal investigators was a hot topic among G-20 attendees.

Trump declared the G-20 summit a “great success” for U.S. trade policy, and shared a video of highlights of his meetings — as well as those of his daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump.

On NBC’s “Meet The Press,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., sharply criticized Trump’s decision to work with Russia on cybersecurity.

“It’s not the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard,” Graham said. “But it’s pretty close.”

The South Carolina Republican also said that “doing a good job” of managing the conflicts in Afghanistan and North Korea and the fight against ISIS, but “when it comes to Russia, he’s got a blind spot.”

“To forgive and forget when it comes to Putin regarding cyberattacks is to empower Putin,” Graham said. “And that’s exactly what he’s doing.”

Also on “Meet The Press,” former CIA Director John Brennan was critical of Trump’s cordial greeting of Putin.

“He said it’s an honor to meet President Putin,” Brennan said. “An honor to meet the individual who carried out the assault against our election? To me, it was a dishonorable thing to say.”

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