President Donald Trump said that he spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin about meddling in the 2016 election, and he denied it.
The president revealed the details of his conversation with Putin to reporters on Air Force One, who repeatedly asked him Putin and Russian election interference.
“I just asked him again,” Trump said. “He said he as absolutely did not meddle in our election, he did not do what they are saying he did.”
When reporters asked if Trump believed Putin, he demurred, but said the Russian president meant what he said.
“Every time he sees me he says I didn’t do that and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it,” Trump said. “But he says I didn’t do that. I think he is very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country.”
Trump revealed that he spoke with Putin during a roundtable of world leaders during the APEC, where they discussed Syria.
“We seem to have a very good feeling for each other, a good relationship considering we don’t know each other well,” he said
He criticized Democratic efforts to drive the narrative that Russia had interfered in the election, calling it an “artificial barrier” to negotiations with Russia.
“If we had a relationship with Russia, that would be a good thing,” Trump said. “In fact, it would be a great thing, not a bad thing, because he could really help us on North Korea.”
The president described the story surrounding Russian attempts to influence the election as an “artificial Democratic hit job.”
“It gets in the way and that’s a shame,” he continued. “Because people will die because of it, and it’s a pure hit job, and it’s artificially induced and that’s shame.”
He also dismissed claims from CIA director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper about Russian activities, describing them as “political hacks.”
Trump said that Russia could help the United States on many foreign policy issues, including North Korea and Syria.
He mocked Hillary Clinton’s effort to improve the relationship with Russia with her frequently ridiculed “reset” button.
“Hillary had her stupid reset button that she spelled the word wrong, but she does not have what it takes to have that kind of relationship where you could call or you could do something,” Trump said.