Trump pressed Putin over election interference for 40 minutes: report

Trump pressed Putin over election interference for 40 minutes: report
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President Trump pressed Russian President Vladimir Putin on his state's alleged interference in last year's presidential election for about 40 minutes during their more than two-hour meeting, The New York Times reported Saturday.

The talks became heated between the two world leaders at times, a senior White House official who was briefed on the closed door meeting by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the newspaper.

Putin at one point reportedly called on Trump to provide evidence to support the meddling allegation.

The U.S. intelligence community released a declassified report in January on its assessment that Russia launched an influence campaign to sway the 2016 election in Trump's favor.

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Despite pressing the Russian leader on the matter, Trump has expressed doubt publicly that Russia tried to meddle in the election.

On Thursday, a day before his meeting with Putin, Trump said at a news conference that "other people in other countries" could have meddling in the U.S. election, adding, "nobody really knows for sure."

Tillerson told reporters that after a back and forth on the issue, Trump pushed the discussion towards other topics like the Syrian civil war. 

Some critics, however, have questioned how strongly the president pushed on the issue.

Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov have suggested in public comments that Trump believed the Kremlin leader's denial.

Putin said during a press conference Saturday that he believes Trump was satisfied with his denial. Lavrov, who sat in on the leaders' first meeting, separately said Trump accepted the denial.

Top Trump administration officials also declined to refute Putin and Lavrov's claims leaving the public account of the meeting one-sided since Trump has not made his own public remarks about their meeting yet, besides calling it “tremendous.”

Trump met with Putin and other world leaders amid the G-20 summit, which drew leading figures from 20 countries together to discuss prevalent global issues like climate change and trade.