Politics

Trump Takes Putin’s Word for it on Russian Meddling in Elections

Putin says charges against Russians wouldn’t have a ‘fighting chance’ in U.S. courts

U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin answer questions about the possible Russian meddling in the 2016 elections during a joint news conference after their summit on Monday in Helsinki, Finland. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Standing alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump said Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling into U.S. elections has hurt relations between the U.S. and Russia and has been a “disaster for our country.”

Taking questions from reporters, Putin denied his country had engaged in “so-called interference” and said it had no plans to do so in the future.

Trump said “All I can do is ask the question” about meddling. Putin affirmed that Trump had raised the issue.

Watch: Next to Putin, Trump Defies U.S. Intel on Russian Election Interference

[Trump Sets Notably Low Bar for Putin Summit]

Trump said he has confidence in the U.S. intelligence community, which has concluded that Russian operatives did try to influence the 2016 election, but instead of backing the intelligence community’s conclusions that Russia was involved, the U.S. president said.in the Monday news conference, “I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

Trump then went on a rant about how questions about Hillary Clinton’s email server have not been answered nor the “30,000 emails” that were scrubbed from it have never been found.

Putin acknowledged he wanted Trump to defeat Clinton, saying he was intrigued that candidate Trump talked about improving relations.

Putin said the two countries should work together through a joint cybersecurity group to examine any materials on election interference, a proposal that Trump called “incredible.”

Putin asserted that the accusations of meddling wouldn’t have a “fighting chance in the American court. Of indictments brought by Mueller against 12 Russians on Friday, Putin said, “There’s no evidence when it comes to the facts.”

Back home, Trump’s performance was condemned from both sides of the aisle.

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham said “This answer by President Trump will be seen by Russia as a sign of weakness and create far more problems than it solves,.”

Democratic Sen. Christopher S. Murphy called Trump’s trip to Europe, which included meetings with NATO allies, “one giant middle finger from President Trump to his own country. Just jaw dropping.”

— Gopal Ratnam contributed to this report.

 

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