Trump flashes a grin, tells Putin not to meddle in US election during first post-Mueller report meeting

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says inviting Russia to G7 'a question of common sense' Pentagon chief does not support invoking Insurrection Act Dershowitz: Does President Trump have power to declare martial law? MORE on Friday met with Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinTrump says inviting Russia to G7 'a question of common sense' EU foreign policy chief says US can invite Russia as 'guest' to G-7 The Hill's Morning Report - Trump mobilizes military against 'angry mob,' holds controversial photo op MORE at the Group of 20 summit in Japan, where he gave a perfunctory warning about election meddling.

As journalists shouted questions asking if Trump would tell Russia not to meddle in U.S. elections, the president delivered a deadpan response.

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"Yes, of course, I will. Don’t meddle in the election, please. Don't meddle in the election,” Trump said, pointing to Putin and flashing a grin.

Putin appeared to chuckle in response.

Trump told reporters that the two leaders would discuss trade, disarmament and "a lot of different things."

 

A White House readout after the roughly 90-minute meeting made no mention of election interference. It said the two leaders discussed improving U.S.-Russia relations, arms control, Venezuela, Ukraine, Iran and Syria.

Friday's meeting was the first time Trump and Putin met face-to-face since former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE finished his nearly two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The two held a phone call after the report's release, where Trump said at the time they discussed "the Russian hoax."

The special counsel's report, released in April, outlined in extensive detail how Russia engaged in a systematic effort to interfere in the 2016 election and aid Trump's candidacy. Investigators did not establish a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, which is the area of the report the president has focused on in the weeks since its redacted copy was released publicly.

The president previously got into hot water during a summit with Putin last year in Helsinki, when he pointed to the Russian leader's denials of any involvement in election interference and undercut the U.S. intelligence community.

Michael McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia, bemoaned Trump's behavior in Friday's meeting.

"Trump laughed off election interference and doesn’t bother to raise Putin’s belligerent , illegal behavior against Ukrainian sailors," McFaul tweeted. "Disappointing but no longer shocking. Trump consistently appeases Putin at expense of US national security interests."

 

A senior administration official said before Trump departed for Japan that there was no formal agenda for the summit between the two leaders, but possible topics included Iran, Ukraine, Syria and arms control.

In an interview this week with the Financial Times, Putin dismissed Mueller's findings, calling it "strange" that Russia was still being accused of interference. He also offered praise for Trump while opining that "the liberal idea has become obsolete."

Trump was joined at Friday's meeting by Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill's Morning Report - Protesters' defiance met with calls to listen Trump signs order directing State Dept., USAID to take action on global religious freedom Pompeo criticizes China on Tiananmen Square anniversary amid US protests MORE, Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinLobbying world The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Johns Hopkins's Jennifer Nuzzo says America needs public health crisis insurance to pay for COVID-19 victims; Protests, pandemic continue to ravage America The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Former Rep. Delaney says Trump is spewing venom when he should be leading; Protests roil the nation as fears of new virus outbreaks grow MORE, national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonHave the courage to recognize Taiwan McConnell says Obama administration 'did leave behind' pandemic plan Trump company lawyer warned Michael Cohen not to write 'tell-all' book: report MORE, national security aide Fiona Hill, acting chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick Mulvaney12 things to know today about coronavirus Mulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus The Memo: Trump agenda rolls on amid pandemic MORE and senior advisers Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump poses for controversial photo op at DC church amid protests Tucker Carlson tees off on Trump, Kushner: 'People will not forgive weakness' Trump's strategy to stay in office MORE and Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump poses for controversial photo op at DC church amid protests Trump: food chain 'almost working perfectly again' Lilly Wachowski claps back at Ivanka Trump and Elon Musk's 'red pill' exchange MORE

Updated at 8:34 a.m.