Trump ‘jokingly’ asks Putin not to meddle in US elections

Source:Reuters Published: 2019/6/28 21:18:40

Too friendly with Russian leader: critics

Photo: VCG

US President Donald Trump on Friday sardonically asked his Russian counterpart to please not meddle in US elections, appearing to make light of a scandal that led to an investigation of his campaign's contact with the Kremlin during 2016 elections.

A two-year investigation into a Moscow-run influence campaign during the election has hung over Trump's presidency, frustrating the Republican president who has said he seeks better relations with Russia.

Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin were speaking to reporters in Osaka, Japan ahead of their first formal face-to-face meeting since a high-profile summit in Helsinki last July.

Asked by reporters whether he would raise the issue during their meeting, held on the sidelines of a Group of 20 (G20) summit, Trump said: "Yes, of course I will," drawing a laugh from Putin.

Trump then turned to Putin to give the directive twice, as he pointed a finger at the Russian leader.

"Don't meddle in the election, please," Trump said.

Trump's critics have accused him of being too friendly with Putin and castigated him for failing to publicly confront the Russian leader in Helsinki after US intelligence agencies concluded that Russian operatives had hacked into Democratic Party computers and used fake social media accounts to attack his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

A US special counsel, Robert Mueller, spent two years investigating whether there were any ties between Trump's campaign and Moscow. Mueller found that Russia did meddle in the election but found no evidence that the Trump campaign illegally conspired with it to influence the vote.

On Friday, Trump told reporters, "It's a great honor to be with President Putin." 

"We have many things to discuss, including trade and including some disarmament."

"We've had great meetings. We've had a very, very good relationship," Trump said on Friday. "And we look forward to spending some very good time together. A lot of very positive things going to come out of the relationship."

In a further attempt to lighten the mood, Trump sought common ground with Putin at the expense of the journalists gathered to catch the leaders at the outset of their meeting.

"Get rid of them. Fake news is a great term, isn't it? You don't have this problem in Russia but we do," Trump said. To which Putin responded, in English: "We also have. It's the same."


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