Trump officials decline to say if he accepted Putin’s denial for meddling
Reporters asked Mnuchin and McMaster to clarify if Trump accepted Putin denials of election interference. Neither refuted those claims pic.twitter.com/AQxfiFcqNz
— Eric Morrow (@ericmorrow11) July 8, 2017
Top Trump administration officials on Saturday declined to refute claims from Russian President Vladimir Putin that President Trump seemed satisfied with the Russian leader’s denial that the Kremlin did not interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
“We are not going to make comments about what other people say. President Trump will be happy to make statements himself about that,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters onboard Air Force One, according to audio of the gaggle.
“It was very clear he made his position felt and after very substantive dialogue on this, they agreed to move on to other discussions,” Mnuchin said about the Friday talks, adding that Trump “handled the meeting brilliantly.”
National security adviser H.R. McMaster, who was also on the flight returning from the Group of 20 summit in Germany, dodged questions about Putin’s remarks.
“What the president and Secretary Tillerson charged us with as they came out of meeting is what we are going to do going forward,” McMaster said after being asked if Putin’s claim is correct.
McMaster instead pointed to the Trump and Putin’s agreement that the U.S. and Russia should work together on cybersecurity issues.
In a press conference on Saturday, Putin reportedly said he believes Trump is convinced by his denial about how his state did not interfere.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who also sat in on the leaders’ first meeting, separately said Trump accepted the denial at a press conference.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Trump confronted Putin on the Russia’s election interference, but critics have questioned how strongly the president pushed on the issue.
Trump has not made public remarks about their meeting besides calling it “tremendous.”
Trump met with Putin and other world leaders amid the G-20 summit, which drew figures from 20 industrialized countries together to discuss issues such as climate change and trade.