Priebus: Trump 'absolutely' did not buy Putin's election interference denial

Priebus: Trump 'absolutely' did not buy Putin's election interference denial

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said Sunday that President Trump "absolutely" did not accept Russian President Vladimir Putin's denial that Moscow did not meddle in last year's presidential election, despite the Kremlin's assertions that Trump was convinced.

"No that is not true. The president absolutely did not  believe the denial of President Putin," Priebus told host Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday."

The White House official stressed that Trump "immediately" addressed the allegations that Russia interfered.

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Priebus said Trump pushed the issue for a significant portion of their meeting, bringing up the topic more than once.

"[He] went after that issue at least two separate times. This was not just a five-minute piece of the conversation, this was an extensive portion of the meeting. And after going after it with President Putin more than once — two times maybe even three times — the president at that point, after spending a large portion of the meeting on the subject, moved on to other topics," Priebus told Wallace.

The New York Times reported Saturday that Trump pushed Putin on the subject for 40 minutes during a meeting that lasted over two hours. 

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also told reporters that Trump moved toward other topics such as the Syrian civil war after discussing Russian meddling.  

Some critics, however, have questioned how strongly the president pushed on the issue.

Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov have suggested in public remarks that the president believed the Kremlin leader's denial.