Donald Trump met with Vladimir Putin during his trip to Asia, and the topic of Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election came up once again.
And once again, Putin denied that Russia did anything to interfere in America’s election, ABC News reported. Trump, for his part, said he believes Putin is sincere.
The two met on Saturday at a summit in Vietnam, and afterward, Donald Trump told reporters on Air Force One that the Russian president has now repeatedly said, “I didn’t do that” in regard to the allegations that Russia meddled in the U.S. election. Trump and Putin had met previously this summer, with Trump saying Putin denied allegations that Russia had interfered.
“And I believe, I really believe that when he tells me that he means it,” Trump told reporters after Saturday’s summit.
While Donald Trump has repeatedly cast doubt on whether it was Russia that interfered in the election, the U.S. intelligence community is much more definitive in its analysis. The agencies concluded that Russia interfered in the election at the order of Vladimir Putin in order to help Trump win.
In January, the intelligence community publicly reported that it had “high confidence” in its findings that Russia interfered in the election, but Donald Trump still expressed doubt that if Russia did interfere, it was alone in doing so.
“I think it was Russia,” he said (via Newsweek). “I think we also get hacked by other countries and people.”
But since making that statement, Trump has more actively cast doubt on whether Russia interfered in the election at all. He has many times referred to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation as “fake” or a “hoax,” and claimed that the investigation into whether his campaign actively colluded with Russia is a political witch hunt.
After a report that Russia purchased political ads on Facebook to sew division among American voters, Trump referred to the idea of Putin’s interference as the “Russia hoax.”
While Donald Trump says he believes Vladimir Putin is sincere in his denial that Russia interfered with the U.S. election, back at home the Russia investigation continues to ramp up. As Reuters reported, Mueller’s team this week interviewed Sam Clovis, co-chairman of President Donald Trump’s election campaign, to learn whether Trump or top campaign officials were aware of the extent of the meetings his campaign team had with high-ranking Russian officials.
[Featured Image by Hau Dinh/AP Images]