Putin denies interference in US election at meeting with Trump

 
Speaking during a press conference following the meeting in Finland, Putin said Trump raised the issue of so-called election interference but reiterated his past denials.  
 
 
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“I had to reiterate things I said several times, including during our personal contacts, that the Russian state has never interfered and is not going to interfere into internal American affairs including election process,” Putin said through a translator. “Any specific material, if such things arise, we are ready to analyze together.”

He went on to suggest Russia would be ready to collaborate with U.S. officials on a “joint working group on cybersecurity.”

Putin’s claim is at odds with the unanimous conclusion of the U.S. intelligence community and federal criminal investigators. Days before the meeting, special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s team indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking Democratic officials during the 2016 contest. 

Trump said he "spent a great deal of time talking about" election interference with Putin, adding that the Russian leader might want to address the topic himself because he "has an interesting idea."
 
Trump has not condemned Putin or Russia for the hacks, instead faulting the Obama administration and the Democratic National Committee for failing to properly defend themselves.
 
The president has drawn criticism at times for his reluctance to criticize Russia and Putin, particularly over election interference.
 
Trump said on Twitter just hours before meeting with Putin that “years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt” are to blame for the souring of U.S.-Russia relations.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs quickly embraced the president’s position, responding to Trump’s tweet by saying, “We agree.”

Putin expressed hope for improving relations moving forward, saying during Monday's press conference that the Cold War "is a thing of the past."

Brett Samuels contributed to this story.