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

President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Democrats worried by Jeremy Corbyn's UK rise amid anti-Semitism Warren, Buttigieg duke it out in sprint to 2020 MORE on Friday met with Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinBudowsky: Would John McCain back impeachment? Sanctions encourage Sino-Russian cooperation Return of nuclear doomsday 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) Swan MuellerTrump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts House impeachment hearings: The witch hunt continues Speier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump 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 PompeoPompeo: 'No mistake' Trump warned Russian diplomat about election tampering Trump admin hits Iranian shipping network, airline with new sanctions The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - An unusual day: Impeachment plus a trade deal MORE, Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinTreasury staffer quits after being implicated in college admissions scandal: report China doesn't need World Bank's loans, just as Trump says Trump admin hits Iranian shipping network, airline with new sanctions MORE, national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonDemocrats seek leverage for trial USA Today editorial board calls for Trump's impeachment Republicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial MORE, national security aide Fiona Hill, acting chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyDemocrats seek leverage for trial Lies, damned lies and impeachable lies Trump abandons plan to dissolve Office of Personnel Management: report MORE and senior advisers Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerKushner pens NY Times piece defending Trump order combating anti-Semitism Trump signs executive order combating anti-Semitism on campuses The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - Democrats to release articles of impeachment today MORE and Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpTrump signs executive order combating anti-Semitism on campuses Advocacy groups decry Trump's 'anti-family policies' ahead of White House summit Author of Steele dossier had 'cordial' relationship with Ivanka Trump: report MORE

Updated at 8:34 a.m.