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

President TrumpDonald TrumpMedia giants side with Bannon on request to release Jan. 6 documents Cheney warns of consequences for Trump in dealings with Jan. 6 committee Jan. 6 panel recommends contempt charges for Trump DOJ official MORE on Friday met with Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinPutin's Russia is all we feared it would be Putin looking for guarantees NATO won't expand westward Blinken to meet with Russian, Ukrainian counterparts amid heightened tensions 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) MuellerAn unquestioning press promotes Rep. Adam Schiff's book based on Russia fiction Senate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG 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 PompeoMike PompeoNo time for the timid: The dual threats of progressives and Trump Psaki: Sexism contributes to some criticism of Harris Mnuchin, Pompeo mulled plan to remove Trump after Jan. 6: book MORE, Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to tackle omicron risks with new travel rules Mnuchin and McConnell discuss debt limit during brief meeting Major Russian hacking group linked to ransomware attack on Sinclair: report MORE, national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonWhen will Biden declare America's 'One China, One Taiwan' policy? India's S-400 missile system problem Overnight Defense & National Security — GOP unhappy with Afghan vetting MORE, national security aide Fiona Hill, acting chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyJan. 6 committee issues latest round of subpoenas for rally organizers The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - To vote or not? Pelosi faces infrastructure decision Jan. 6 panel subpoenas 11, including Pierson, other rally organizers MORE and senior advisers Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerBiden celebrates start of Hanukkah Kushner looking to Middle East for investors in new firm: report Watchdog finds no money has flowed out of agency tasked by Trump admin to fight pandemic MORE and Ivanka TrumpIvanka TrumpBiden celebrates start of Hanukkah Meadows comes under growing Jan. 6 panel spotlight Tucker Carlson rips Graham over report he told officers to shoot Jan. 6 rioters MORE

Updated at 8:34 a.m.