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Trump says he will press Putin ‘firmly’ on election interference allegations

Trump says he will press Putin ‘firmly’ on election interference allegations
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President TrumpDonald TrumpLil Wayne gets 11th hour Trump pardon Trump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon Trump expected to pardon Bannon: reports MORE on Friday said he would “firmly” press Russian President Vladimir Putin about Moscow’s alleged interference in the 2016 election when they meet face-to-face early next week.

He indicated that he doesn't expect any breakthroughs on the matter — Russia has repeatedly denied it meddled in the U.S. presidential election — but he pledged to “absolutely firmly ask the question.”

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“I know you’ll ask, 'Will we be talking about ‘meddling,’?” Trump said at a press conference Friday in Britain alongside Prime Minister Theresa May. “I will absolutely bring that up. I don’t think you’ll have any ‘Gee, I did it, I did it, you got me.’ There won’t be a Perry Mason here.”

“But you never know what happens, right?” he added.

Trump has previously stated that he expects Russian meddling to come up during the July 16 meeting with Putin in Helsinki.

The U.S. intelligence community concluded in early 2017 that Moscow waged a multifaceted campaign to influence the U.S. presidential election, with the goal of sowing discord, damaging Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGOP Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene referred to Parkland school shooting as 'false flag' event on Facebook Senators vet Mayorkas to take lead at DHS CNN poll: Melania Trump leaving office as least popular first lady ever MORE, and helping then-candidate Trump win the White House.

The issue came up during a November meeting between Trump and Putin, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders' Meeting in Vietnam. Trump created a media frenzy after the meeting when he indicated that he believed Putin's denial of election meddling.

The issue of Russian interference has become increasingly controversial in Washington as special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE has pressed forward with his investigation into possible collusion between Moscow and Trump’s campaign. The president has repeatedly derided the probe as a witch hunt, saying that there was no collusion.