'Don't meddle in the election': Trump appears to joke with Putin as they meet at G20 summit for the first time since Mueller report
- President Donald Trump appeared to jokingly tell Vladimir Putin "don't meddle in the election" when pressed by reporters on whether he would address election interference during his one-to-one meeting with the Russian leader at the G20 summit on Friday.
- Trump and Putin met on Friday for their first face-to-face encounter since special counsel Robert Mueller completed his investigation into Russian election interference in the 2016 campaign.
- Before their scheduled meeting, Trump turned to Putin and pointed a finger, saying "don't meddle in the election," which elicited laughter from both leaders.
- Earlier, Trump strolled into the summit alongside Putin before posing for a photo with the other world leaders.
- Trump has repeatedly dodged questions about whether he would speak to Putin about election meddling while at the forum.
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President Donald Trump appeared to jokingly tell Vladimir Putin "don't meddle in the election" when pressed by reporters on whether he would address election interference during his one-to-one meeting with the Russian leader at the G20 summit on Friday.
Trump is currently in Osaka, Japan for the two-day forum, and plans to speak with several world leaders, including China's Xi Jinping and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the sidelines.
Trump's meeting with Putin marks the first time the two leaders are speaking face-to-face since former special counsel Robert Mueller's report into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections was completed in March and made public in April.
Mueller, in his only public statement, last month shared findings of his investigation: "As alleged by the grand jury in an indictment, Russian intelligence officers who were part of the Russian military launched a concerted attack on our political system."
Before his scheduled meeting with Putin, Trump was pressed on whether he would tell Putin not to meddle in the election.
"Of course I will," he said, before pointing a finger at Putin and saying "don't meddle with the election," and both leaders seemed to laugh.
A reporter asks President Trump if he would tell Russia not to meddle in the 2020 US presidential election.
As President Putin, Sec. Pompeo and others smile, President Trump turns to the Russian delegation, points and tells them not to meddle in the election. pic.twitter.com/lfcBwDJ1r6 — NBC News (@NBCNews) June 28, 2019
Earlier, Trump strolled into the G20 summit alongside Putin before posing for a photo with the other world leaders.
Trump has repeatedly dodged questions about whether he would speak to Putin about election meddling while at the G20 summit. He declined to press Putin on the matter and appeared to side with the Russian leader's denials over that of US intelligence agencies, when the two leaders last met in Helsinki last year.
"President Putin says it's not Russia," Trump said at a press conference in 2018. "I don't see any reason why it would be." Trump recently told NBC News in an interview this week that he "may" discuss 2020 election meddling with the Russian leader, though he has not officially confirmed an agenda for their meeting.
Before departing for Osaka on Wednesday, Trump told reporters that he hopes for a "very good conversation" with Putin, but said that the specifics of the conversation are "none of your business".
According to a readout from the White House of the meeting, "The Presidents agreed the two countries will continue discussion on a 21st century model of arms control, which President Trump stated as needing to include China. The leaders also discussed the situations in Iran, Syria, Venezuela, and Ukraine.
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