Trump says he trusts Putin’s denials of election meddling

U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin talk during the family photo session at the APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam
U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin talk during the family photo session at the APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam November 11, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

November 12, 2017

By Steve Holland and Denis Pinchuk

DANANG, Vietnam (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said he believed President Vladimir Putin when he denied accusations that Russia meddled in last year’s U.S. election, despite U.S. intelligence agencies’ conclusion of Russian interference.

Trump made the comment after he and Putin met briefly at a summit in Vietnam on Saturday and agreed on a joint statement supporting a political solution for Syria, now in its seventh year of civil war.

It was the first encounter of the two leaders since July and came during a low in U.S.-Russia relations and at a time when Trump is haunted by an investigation into accusations that Putin influenced the election that brought him to the White House.

Putin reiterated the denials of interference, Trump 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 told reporters aboard Air Force One after leaving the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in the resort of Danang.

“I think he is very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country,” Trump said.

Trump has called allegations of campaign collusion with Moscow a hoax. A special counsel, Robert Mueller, is conducting a probe that has led to charges against Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates.

U.S. intelligence agencies have also concluded Russians interfered to tip the election in Trump’s favor through hacking and releasing emails to embarrass Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and spreading social media propaganda.

On Saturday, James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, said Trump has been informed of the conclusions showing Russia’s meddling.

“President Trump was presented with clear and indisputable evidence that Russia interfered in the election.” Clapper told Reuters. Clapper was the national intelligence director when his office in January released the conclusion reached by the CIA, Federal Bureau of Investigation and National Security Agency that Russia had meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election told Reuters.

“The fact that the President would take Putin at his word over that of the intelligence community is quite simply unconscionable,” Clapper said.

Russia has repeatedly denied meddling.

The Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John McCain, took Trump to task over his comments about Putin, using the “America First” phrase that Trump invoked at the APEC summit in laying out his trade priorities.

“There’s nothing ‘America First’ about taking the word of a KGB colonel over that of the American intelligence community,” McCain said in a statement. Putin is a former KGB officer and ex-head of Russia’s FSB security service.

Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the U.S. House of Representatives intelligence committee, which is investigating the issue, accused Trump of siding with Putin over U.S. intelligence agencies.

“The President fools no one. He understands that the Russians intervened through the hacking and dumping of his opponent’s emails, the fruits of which he exploited time and again on the campaign trail,” Schiff said in a statement.

In Danang, Putin told reporters that an alleged link between Manafort and Russia was fabricated by Trump’s opponents.

Putin dismissed suggestions Russia influenced the elections through political advertising. Tech companies, including Facebook, have said some Russian-bought political content spread on their platforms around the time.

“There is no confirmation of our mass media meddling in election campaigns – and there can’t be any,” Putin said.

LIMITED CONTACT

Trump, who had emphasized on the 2016 campaign trail that it would be nice if the United States and Russia could work together, made this case again on Saturday. He said it would benefit Washington to have good ties with Moscow so they could work together on issues including Syria’s civil war, the conflict in Ukraine and the North Korean nuclear crisis.

“Look, I can’t stand there and argue with him, I would rather have him get out of Syria,” Trump said. “I would rather … get to work with him on the Ukraine rather than standing and arguing.”

In Vietnam, Trump and Putin agreed a joint statement that said there was no military solution to the Syrian conflict, pledged to continue “de-confliction” to ensure the U.S. and Russian militaries do not clash there, and pledged new support for the U.N.-backed “Geneva process,” which has failed to find a political solution to end the conflict.

Russia has militarily supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad while the United States has at times backed Syrian rebels against him, though the recent U.S. focus has been on defeating the Islamic State militant group that had seized parts of Syria.

With Islamic State having suffered losses in Syria, Iraq and beyond, greater attention is turning to the broader conflict between Assad’s forces and rebel factions.

Trump hailed the joint statement.

“We did it very quickly,” he told reporters. “We seem to have a very good feeling for each other, a good relationship considering we don’t know each other well.”

After their meeting, Putin described Trump as “a well-mannered person and comfortable to deal with.”

Trump and Putin were seen chatting amicably as they walked to the position where the traditional APEC summit photo was being taken at a viewpoint looking over the South China Sea.

(Additional reporting by Steve Holland in Danang, Maria Kiselyova in Moscow, Mark Hosenball and Mike Stone in Washington; Writing by Matthew Tostevin and Arshad Mohammed; Editing by James Dalgleish and Leslie Adler)

  • Kene

    You would have never seen Obama in this picture…These guys are deeply and respectfully engaged…these two men appear to respect each other and that is a good thing…

    • All American

      Putin knew what Barry’s motivation was and it was not America

  • Dane Parker

    I think it’s rather clear to anyone without a political axe to grind as to what the Russians did. They put out media that put a positive spin on Trump while also working their relationship ties with the Clintons via Uranium One and so on, so that regardless who won the election, they had done/said positive things about both so they would be well-received by whomever the new president-elect and administration happened to be. Full stop.

  • Theo Stall

    SPIN LANGUAGE–he didn’t say he “TRUSTS” Putin, he said he takes him at his word…., which also allows for OTHERS to have done it……

  • Tank

    Ha, Philla12 beat me too it! I was going to say that I would trust Putin before I trusted Hilldog or her sperm donor husbanc BillyJoeJimBob anyday. Why aren’t any women accusing him of anything? Oh, that’s right the Hilldog had them disposed of. And follow that up with a past pos potus muslim…
    I just can’t believe so many people have a low enough IQ to fall for her line of BS. WaPo should have done a story on how her lemmings cried in their seats at the convention hall the night EVIL fell and left – EXIT stage left!

  • shafawn

    It’s stupid anyway. Its not like they changed the number of votes or tampered with the ballots. They were accused of trying to influence which Obama was extremely guilty of trying to keep Bebe Netanyahu from being re-elected and the lame stream media didn’t say boo about that.

  • iwontell

    I’d more likely believe Putin than all the MORONS investigating a FAKE NEWS SCAM that/s been going on for MANY MANY MONTHS,,,,,,,,for NOTHING

    ENTER THE CLINTON CRIME FAMILY,

  • 500c

    The democrats are the enemy of the working class of BOTH partys

    • landy fincannon

      You know, here is an odd thing.
      Scarbrough
      Brzezinski
      Gorsuch
      Ginsburg
      Gingrich
      Gorelick
      B&C Clinton
      Scaramucci

      Are just a few of the names you’ll find on the Council on Foreign Relations.
      Just a coincidence I suppose, huh?

      • 500c

        ….. you’re right. It did need an edit. What do you think?

      • 500c

        Thanks.

        • landy fincannon

          You bet. Cheers

  • landy fincannon

    Anything to undermine the confidence of voting , whether it’s voter ID or the ruse of Russian interference.

  • conquest915

    It is Sad State when the majority of Americans trust the Russians claims more that they do the Demoncraps and their LSM propaganda arm.

    • 500c

      They’re waking up.

      • All American

        They have awoken the sleeping giant🇺🇸

  • Sylvia Avila

    I believe Putin and this is why. The NWO gang member Obama, ask Putin to join the NWO gang and Putin said NO! Ever since NWO lite gang have been trying very hard to damage and cause problems for him. Make NO mistake this NWO Group very Evil will do anything to keep their power!! And their Evil Agenda going!

    • All American

      He got what he wanted, Uranium. They got what they wanted $$$$$.
      We the people had it stuck to us by those that were supposed to be working in our best interest.
      Lesson learned: “Never trust a Democrat!”

      • Sylvia Avila

        Yes, Dems prove to be big time Traitors to our country. I believe some Republicans are also involved. Greed! has hit high in Washington D.C. it seems, they do not care for the people just their selves. Vote them all out!

        • All American

          True thay Syl👍🏻
          I hope that you are doing well♥️

          • Sylvia Avila

            Thank you! Yes God seems to be with me, just glad to be alive very grateful to my son and daughter who have help me a lot! God bless!

          • All American

            God Bless You🙏🏻

  • Impaler

    Democrats have repeatedly insulted Russia and the Russian people. Their acidic language and name calling against them has caused terrible international relations damage. Lets make an effort to be friends with Russia and work together with them rather than spew very offensive hate speech. Together Russia and America could do great things for the world and world peace.

    • Joe Michael

      Though I agree we should be civil and fair in dealing with Russia, we should always be wary and tough with Putin. Ex KBG wants to bring the Union Of Soviet Socialist back to power. Remember them?

      • All American

        For sure!!

      • 500c

        Putin showed respect by wearing a shirt and tie and leavin his horse at home..

    • All American

      They think of themselves as masters of divide, chaos and propaganda only problem that they have = “AMERICANS”🇺🇸
      MAGA🇺🇸

  • landwell

    “I think he is very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country,” Trump said.

    I suspect that line is intended for Congress.

  • a non

    Poor babies — you seem to have stepped off the reality bus.

    • TexanForever

      … You must mean the Trump Train, right?
      .

  • FoolIggy

    The DARK DEEP STATE OF dc political swamp rats and oligarchs want us to BELIEVE, with their fake media, their story in order to control the American Taxpayer & WASTE FEDERAL DOLLARS with special investigators.

    Take it to the bank that Mueller was selected for his role as special counsel for its payday!

    Mueller runs UNCHECKED in spending federal tax dollars so he can funnel money back to the power elite oligarchs and to manipulate American public opinion about the state of America.

    IF TRUTH were being told, King O, many of his minions, and the Clinton’s and their money laundering foundation would be under indictment.

    It is is NOT about TRUTH, it is about power, greed, money, and which swamp rat rises up in the deep dark infected state of dc power politics.

    DRAIN THE SWAMP, term limits! Break up the dc cartel. It is as bad or worse than any MAFIA now that it has infected and controls the dOJ, the fBI, the cIA and many other useless government money pits!

  • a non

    “Trump said Putin had told him again that he hadn’t meddled in the election.

    “I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it,” Trump said of the accusations. “I think he’s very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country.””

    Hahahahahahahahahahah — Wanna buy a bridge?

    • TexanForever

      … Selling stuff you don’t own? … (must be a liberal)
      .

  • landy fincannon

    Actually, you’d think that the DNC would be ashamed and embarrassed after being spanked by 100.000$ in ads.

    • Impaler

      I dont care if Russia does buy ads in support of various candidates. Who cares? People need to think for themselves and make responsible informed decisions in voting.

      • landy fincannon

        Yep!!!

  • LuciusAnnaeusSeneca

    The fact that so much came out of such a short amount of time shared by Trump and Putin shows not only their willingness to work together but also their capability to do so. Once again, as with China, Trump shows his ability to work at the geopolitical level, and do it well. It’s doubtful any of his Democratic Party critics would be able to function anywhere near as well.

    • antiliberal00

      The democraps are too busy trying to figure out what they can steal. They create problems for others to solve.

  • philla12

    Sadly, I would trust Putin before I would trust any of the Democrats with political power at this time. They seem to be willing to sacrifice the safety of this country to gain votes. Anything coming from the left right now appears to be tainted with false accusations, bribery, and a complete lack of respect for anyone that doesn’t vote D. And that includes the press.

    • landwell

      To paraphrase Gen. Patton –

      “I’d rather have Putin in front of me than a member of Congress behind me.”

      • kaiju

        You mean like Democrats Jared Polis, David Cicilline, Sean Maloney, Mark Takano, or Mark Pocan? Those are just the openly gay ones currently serving. If serving is what you call that..

      • TexanForever

        Or Kinky Freedman’s hit song “I’d Rather Have a Bottle in Front of Me Than a Frontal Lobotomy.”
        .

      • iwontell

        Especially the TOP DONKEY’S in the DEM’s and their MORONS,

    • kaiju

      Meanwhile after a year of investigation Mueller is still trying to determine if the hole in the ground is his ahole or not.

      • TexanForever

        … The shifty lib bastard would likely settle for any ol’ hole.
        .

      • All American

        He is the biggest a hole in DC these days

    • TexanForever

      Damn straight !! … Took the words right outta my mouth. Putin was a better President of the United States during the Obama years than Obama because he did more to defeat our Muzz enemies than Obama did.

      We are in far more national danger from the Dem progressives and “Republican” RINOS fighting Trump than we ever were from Putin. Trump is having to straighten things out using only one hand because he’s using the other to hold off the DC swamp rats and liberal press. Amazingly, he’s still getting things done. Imagine how great it would be if he had some GOP cooperation.
      .

    • shafawn

      Not to mention allowing illegals to vote without freaking ID … what a bunch of moronic turds the democrats are

    • All American

      The Progressive left is a cesspool of propaganda. Believe nothing that they spew!

  • Rivers360

    The better relationship between President Trump and President Putin was delayed by the democratic party claims of collusion during the elections and though it was a nothing burger it delayed the betterment of the relationship indeed. That is over now as far as I am concerned. Never amounted to anything to start with but indeed…the democrats gained as they knew they would by keeping these two important presidents apart. No more of that.

    • TexanForever

      It also served the MSM as a convenient distraction from Hilda’s Crime Syndicate connection to the Russians.
      .