President Donald Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit last week and when asked by reporters if he would address the topic of election interference, Trump turned and said, with a slight grin, “Don’t meddle in the election.”
Trump had traveled to Japan for the summit where the agenda included talks with Putin, China’s Xi Jinping, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Trump and Putin’s face-to-face at the summit was the first time the two leaders have met like that since special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election was turned in and subsequently released to the public in April.
Last month Mueller broke his long run of silence by giving what has become his only statement on the investigation and said, “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.”
Trump and Putin were seated together and when reporters wanted to know if Trump would approach the subject of interference into the American election, he said, “Of course I will,” and then as he pointed a finger at Putin, he continued, “don’t meddle with the election,” and the leaders shared a wry smile and a chuckle.
The moment can be seen in the clip below:
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
Trump and Putin can also be seen walking casually alongside one another at the summit in this next clip.
Pres. Trump walked side-by-side with Russia’s Vladimir Putin before posing for the family photo at the G-20 summit in Japan.
The president then stood next to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the photo. https://t.co/wu4kQlxAwE pic.twitter.com/Mk5CVJPIkU— ABC News (@ABC) June 28, 2019
Trump had previously managed to avoid questions on whether he planned to speak to Putin about interference and had also declined to ask Putin about it at their last meeting. He’s also gotten a pretty good reputation of siding with Putin on various matters, even taking a position of defending him at times. At a 2018 press conference, Trump said, “President Putin says it’s not Russia… I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
Trump wouldn’t confirm an official agenda for his meeting with Putin, only telling NBC News that he “may” address the topic of interference into the 2020 election. He told reporters before he left for Japan last week that he was hopeful for “very good conversation” with Putin said to the press that any further specifics of the meeting were “none of your business.”