President Donald Trump emerged in Helsinki, Finland, from a secret one-on-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin disputing the US intelligence community’s assessment that the former Soviet spy ordered military forces to influence America’s 2016 presidential election.
At a press conference alongside Putin on Monday, Trump said that “I don’t see any reason why” Russia would interfere in the 2016 election.
Putin says the ‘‘so-called Russian interference’’ in America’s 2016 presidential election was brought up by Trump during their private summit.
A dozen Russian military officers were indicted by a grand jury Friday,charged by the Justice Department with interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, just three days before the one-on-one meeting between the two leaders.
The indictment revealed details about the scope of the Russian influence operation, including alleged conversations the Russian hackers had with a Republican congressional candidate and an American journalist.
Sam Husseini, the communications director of the U.S. Institute for Public Accuracy, was forcibly removed from the room where the two leaders spoke to the media for holding a sign that Russian authorities reportedly called a “malicious item.”
Husseini had a sign that said “Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty.”
Trump and Putin met for more than two hours — going over the 90 minute talk that had been planned.
“The Russian state has never interfered and is not going to interfere into internal American affairs including election process,” Putin said during the press conference.
“There was no collusion. I didn’t know the president. There was nobody to collude with,” Trump said.
Trump blamed “both countries” for the strained relationship.
When a reporter asked if Trump would denounce Russia’s efforts to interfere in the presidential election, he again raised his former Democratic opponent.
“I think it’s a disgrace we can’t get Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 e-mails. I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today,” Trump said.
Putin told Trump during the summit Monday that he never meddled in the election.
At the briefing, Putin called the allegations “nonsense,” and offered to allow special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators into Russia.
“The Russian state has never interfered and is not going to interfere into internal American affairs including election process,” Putin said.
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