American Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters Friday that President Donald Trump “pressed” President Vladimir Putin several times about Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election cycle during their first face-to-face meeting.
The two reportedly had a “robust and lengthy exchange on the subject” during the meeting, scheduled during the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany.
BREAKING: Tillerson says Trump opened meeting with Putin raising concern about Russian interference in US election; Putin denied role.
— The Associated Press (@AP) July 7, 2017
During a press conference following their meeting, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told U.S. media that both leaders agreed that Russian interference “is a substantial hindrance to us to move the U.S.-Russia relationship forward and agreed to exchange further work regarding commitments of noninterference in affairs of the United States and our democratic process as well as other countries. And so, more work to be done in that regard.”
Tillerson also said, “The president pressed President Putin, on more than one occasion, regarding Russian involvement. President Putin denied such involvement, as I think he has in the past.”
According to the Agence France-Presse, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Trump “accepted” Putin’s denial of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
#BREAKING Trump "accepted" Putin denial of US vote meddling, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov says
— AFP news agency (@AFP) July 7, 2017
According to Russia’s state-run news network Ria Novosti, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in his own press conference that “President Trump mentioned the fact that in the US, as before, some groups are spreading—but can’t prove—the topic of Russian meddling in the US elections.”
Lavrov reportedly added [rough translation]: “It was definitely agreed that all the complex issues involved – including the war on terrorism, the fight against organized crime, hacking in all its forms – will be the subject of Russian-American cooperation. For this purpose, a joint bilateral working group will be created.”
Multiple American pundits dismissed the possibility of Trump ever bringing up the subject of Russia’s meddling.
U.S. intelligence agencies have suggested Russia was involved in a concerted effort to interfere with the 2016 U.S. elections which included the hacking of Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails and used WikiLeaks to release those emails which showed the Hillary Clinton campaign’s dishonesty throughout the election process.
Last month, Democratic strategist and pollster Pat Caddell told Breitbart News that he was concerned over reports that former President Barack Obama knew early on of Russia’s meddling in the election, saying, “It’s pretty damned suspicious that Obama waited. It was only after Trump got elected that they go all in on this issue and doing the Russian investigation. Why wasn’t the president protecting our electoral system?”
Caddell added: “They thought Hillary was going to win. They didn’t want to upset it, and they didn’t tell the American people, and as one of the Obama people said, a phrase that should go down in history: ‘We choked on this!’ They choked for political reasons. Let’s get it straight.”