After a two-hour meeting Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, U.S. President Donald Trump stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Putin and disputed claims that Russia conspired to disrupt the 2016 presidential election, putting Trump at odds with his country's own intelligence community.
The president said the U.S. has been “foolish” and “made some mistakes” in its relationship with Russia.
In their private discussion, which took place in Helsinki, Finland, Putin was “extremely strong and powerful in his denial” that Russian agents hacked U.S. election or campaign servers with the intent to interfere with democratic process, Trump said.
"My people came to me, [Director of National Intelligence] Dan Coats came to me, some others, they said they think it's Russia,” Trump said during the press conference that followed the meeting of the world leaders. “I have President Putin. He just said it's not Russia. I will say this, I don't see any reason why it would be."
Trump called recent testimony by the FBI agent who led the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email server a "disgrace."
Why It’s Important
Trump’s alignment with the Russian president and break from the U.S. intelligence community led some to fear that he had “sold out” the U.S.
Even as he isolated constituents, though, the president did find one friend in Putin. Their “direct, open, deeply productive” conversations spanning arms control, Syria and the 2014 annexation of Crimea brought the leaders to what Putin called “an acceptable level of trust.”
“Our relationship has never been worse than it is now,” Trump said. “However, that changed, about four hours ago.”
Putin outlined an arms control agenda for future talks that includes extension of and compliance with existing treaties and a ban on weapons in space.
Russia is considering inviting Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigators to Russia to interrogate the indicted Russian officers, Putin said — but the U.S. would be expected to reciprocate the arrangement.
Trump further said the two countries would pursue greater cooperation in “the pursuit of shared interests."
Both the S&P 500 and VanEck Vectors Russia ETF (NYSE: RSX) fell during the press conference but had recovered by the time of publication.
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Screenshot courtesy of the White House.
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