Russian diplomat says election meddling wasn’t discussed at White House, contradicting Trump
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday disputed a White House account of his meeting with President Trump, telling reporters the two did not discuss election meddling during their Oval Office sit-down.
“We haven’t even actually discussed elections,” Lavrov told reporters at the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Lavrov’s comments came shortly after the White House issued its readout of the meeting, which said Trump warned the Russian diplomat against “any Russian attempts to interfere in United States elections.”
Russia has in the past put out its version of meetings with U.S. officials first, allowing it to set the narrative.
Trump on Tuesday also tweeted out a photo of the two behind the Resolute Desk, saying they had “a very good meeting” where they discussed trade, nuclear arms control and election meddling.
The meeting was closed to press.
Just had a very good meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and representatives of Russia. Discussed many items including Trade, Iran, North Korea, INF Treaty, Nuclear Arms Control, and Election Meddling. Look forward to continuing our dialogue in the near future! pic.twitter.com/tHecH9a9ck
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2019
The meeting marked the Russian diplomat’s first official visit to Washington since 2017, and his second Oval Office meeting with Trump.
Lavrov met earlier in the day with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said during a press conference that he warned his Russian counterpart that Moscow’s election interference was “unacceptable” and that the U.S. was prepared to respond if it happens in the next election.
The U.S. intelligence community and former special counsel Robert Mueller have previously concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, though officials in Moscow have routinely denied that is the case.
Trump has at times expressed doubts over the finding that Russia meddled, however. He notably cast doubt on the intelligence community’s findings during a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a summit in Helsinki in July 2018.
During a bilateral meeting with Putin this past June, Trump was asked if he would warn the Russian president against interfering.
“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.
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