President Donald Trump met Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday at the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Germany, and Trump reportedly took Putin’s word over testimony of U.S. officials and intelligence agencies that Russia did not interfere in the 2016 Presidential elections, according to the Russian foreign minister.
Only Trump, Putin, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attended the meeting, as well as translators for each party.
Following the two-plus hour meeting, which was originally scheduled to last 30 minutes, Tillerson said the meeting opened with talk about the Russian hacking, which Putin denied. It was also reported that Putin asked for “proof” of the hacking.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials recently testified before the Senate committee that Russia went after elections-related systems in 21 states prior to the 2016 Presidential election, but that those systems were not involved in vote tallying.
Earlier this month, former FBI Director James Comey testified under oath before the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia “no doubt” intervened in the 2016 Presidential election, and that President Trump did not obstruct the investigation or ask that it be stopped.
The White House last week confirmed that President Donald Trump will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Group of 20, or G-20, summit next week in Germany, according to reports.
Ahead of his meeting with Putin, Trump tweeted: “I look forward to all my meetings today with world leaders, including my meeting with Vladimir Putin. Much to discuss.”
The G-20, or Group of 20, summit is a forum for governments and central banks from 20 major economies, and it convened in Hamburg, Germany.
Trump and Putin only met for the first time Thursday, at the start of the summit. But their names have been used in the same sentences for months now, as the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee has been investigating the alleged Russian hacking of the 2016 Presidential election.
— CNN (@CNN) July 7, 2017
The President has denied allegations that any of his associates were in contact with Russian officials during the election or following it, during the transition period.
Trump also vehemently denied having anything to do with the alleged Russian hacking, and has taken to Twitter on more than one occasion to defend himself against the political “witch hunt” targeting him where it concerns allegations he colluded with the Russians.
The Senate Intelligence Committee is investigating that a foreign adversary “attacked us right here at home” and has “highjacked our most important Democratic process,” according to Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia who is the vice chairman of the committee.